Startup v Small Business — Which One Are YOU?

Big Red Car here on what is going to be a nice day in the ATX — but, then, all days in the ATX are nice, no?

So what are you doing, entrepreneur, building a startup or a small business? Is there a difference?

Let’s chat about that.

The Other Day

The other day The Boss was talking to one of his brilliant CEOs and the Big Red Car was eavesdropping on the convo. This particular bit of brilliance was running a real company which had real revenue, real earnings, and was lining the pocket of the CEO with real, lifestyle changing cash. He owned the company in its entirety though he had had some investors in the past. It did not happen over night but it did happen.

The Boss riddled him this, “Was there an instant in time when you went from being a pimple faced, gangly start up and became a real small business?”

The CEO hemmed and hawed — can YOU do a credible hem and haw? work on it — and finally said, “Yes, I guess there was.”

“How did that feel?” asked The Boss.

“Like being an adult,” said the CEO.

“What did you do that made that change?” asked The Boss.

It was a funny question because what the CEO said next was something that The Boss had been working — hounding him? — on with him. For a couple of years.

“I guess I felt like a real company when I finally did the work to get the Vision, Mission, Strategy, Tactics, Objectives, Values, Culture in writing. I had to get down the road a little to really do them right.”

The Boss laughed and asked, “What else?”

“OK, the business engine canvas, the business process graphic, dollar weighted org charts which plotted our future, and a Power Point presentation that described the company. That grew from my elevator, taxicab, boardroom pitches.”

They sat there and looked at each other. The Boss smiled.

“Anything else?”

“The performance appraisal system, the onboarding process, the annual anonymous company survey, all the Board stuff — board charter, board committee charters, streamlined board agenda . . . ” whereupon The Boss held his hand up and said, “Enough. Enough.”

“How hard was it to do all of that? Honestly?” asked The Boss.

“Not very hard,” said the CEO, “and now it’s so damn easy to update. I wish I’d done it when I first started the company. I have a planning session with the lads. We update everything. Anonymous company survey and look at the results. Offsite we, the management, go for a couple of days of plotting and bonding. Set written objectives. Company town hall style meeting and quarterly chats thereafter. It’s all on a schedule and it gets done because it gets done.”

“Because you do it. Because you make it get done. Because you decided to do it.”

Barbecue, the right choice for almost anything

The Boss suggested they go get some barbecue. Barbecue is both a anticipatory and a celebratory meal. Getting barbecue in the ATX is a good thing. Here is a pic of some very rare barbecue. You may like yours with a little more smoke.


You will become a small business when YOU decide to do the work.

You want a T Ball view of things? Nobody keeps score? Everybody gets a hit. Nobody is ever out. Then, y’all go out for ice cream and tell each other how great you are.

Go somewhere else cause the Big Red Car is bringing you the REAL; the REAL work that is necessary to have REAL revenue, REAL profits, REAL distributions and to allow you to sleep at night in a better bed bought with those distributions.

There is a huge difference between being a startup and a small business. You knew it. You were just afraid to admit it to yourself.

So, you start as a startup. That is OK. But, you become a small business when you are ready. When you do the work. When you are no longer afraid of success.

Hey, you, yeah, you. Where are YOU?

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car who loves you, man. Feel the love? Now go do some grown up work cause YOU, my friend, are a business assassin.cropped-LTFD-illust_300.png


9 thoughts on “Startup v Small Business — Which One Are YOU?

  1. Hmm, and if you run a good small business that doesn’t scale, you should do all those things as a microcosm. BTW, check out and see if that platform fits to help small businesses with HR

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