I Don’t Run a Startup, I Run a Business

“Confident Man Working On Startup”, I’m not sure what makes him so confident, the man bun? the pink shirt? the “I’m a DJ headphones”?

So last night I went to yet another networking event. I’m finding myself at a lot of them recently, trying to build up the profile of the business and win some new work. It was pretty empty and I was a little bit drunk by the time I got there (free cans of Guinness and a desire to show everyone else how to pour the perfect pint from a can in the office didn’t help) so I wasn’t really in the mood for serious networking anyway. After grabbing another couple of free beers and pizza, I finally get chatting to this guy with an idea of how to crowdsource information to help keep the roads in good order.

Him: “So this is my idea [explains in some detail]. What do you guys do?”

Me: “We run a digital agency that build other peoples websites and apps, been doing it for about two years now”

Him: “Oh cool, so you’re still in the Startup phase then?”

Me: “Er… not really, I mean we’re making money and we don’t have any investment”

Him: “Ah so you would say you’re more of an entrepreneur then?”

Me: “Nope… just a guy who runs a business”

Him: “Oh, well good luck with that”

Now that could very well seem like I was being a dick, it’s entirely likely I can be a bit of a dick at times, but since when did people just assume that you have to be running a startup if you own a new business, and why can’t I do just that, run a small business and not give myself the title of an entrepreneur.

The thing that got my back up the most was the ‘startup phase’. Are all new businesses expected to just run at a loss for their first few years, sucking up outside investment and splashing it on R&D? What happened to the classic model of “do / buy something that costs less than the amount you sell it for?”

It could just be me being a little fragile (both last night in taking offence and this morning with a bit of a sore head), but I feel like the years of liberal cash distribution in the ‘Start Up’ world has really skewed some young people’s ideas of what it actually means to run a business. I know there are a lot of people out there with great ideas that wouldn’t have been able to get them off the ground if it weren’t for the sort of funding that’s been around recently. However, there’s also a lot of shit out there — an awful lot of shit.

Maybe it’s just because I’ve never taken a penny of inward investment into the business, or maybe I’ve just spent too long listening to people’s bad ideas that they want a small fortune to get up and running. I’m just in the camp of old fashioned business, do a thing and make money doing it.

I also told this guy that rather than spending money on fixing the roads, he should go round selling Monorails. Simply because this episode of the Simpsons was on the other day.