Is Your Venture a Startup or a Small Business?


The startup concept does not only refer to tech-related ventures. However, the misconception of startups as high technology-related ventures has already found deep roots in the entrepreneurial world. Everyone wants to be a tech startup founder or CEO. 

Just by intensive virtual immersion into the digital maze of the AI tech industry since November 2022, with the introduction of Open AI ChatGPT into the market, you can see how venturing into AI tech startups is the hype of attention in the tech industry and business world.

Unfortunately, it is not as glamorous and a billion-turnover goldmine dream as most tech enthusiasts seem to portray it in the tech entrepreneurial business world. Building any business venture into a brand, needs going deep with what you bring to the digital global world, especially since the Open AI ChatGPT launch and introduction into the market. 

Most AI tech ventures hardly survive the prototype stage. And those that go through it, like Open AI, find it hard to get investors to develop and build into a brand without worrying deeply about raising funds for heavy investments from investors and venture capitalists.

Why You Should Care

Startups can be in any industry or sector of the economy. So, along in your brand-building process and journey, it is imperative to be clear with what industry and niche you would want to dive deep into and whether your business venture is a startup, a small business, a side hustle, or just a hobby. Knowing what you are throwing yourself in to as an entrepreneur is where your brand-building process and journey starts.

Like the dilemma of branding yourself as a freelancer, entrepreneur, solopreneur, contractor, or creator, these concepts need clarification at the onset of your venture for business and personal brand development in the market. So, to start with, a startup is not only for tech entrepreneurs, just like branding that is not only for successful entrepreneurs and popular brands like Apple, Nike, or Coca-Cola.

Whether as a startup or not, you have the power to establish yourself and your venture as a brand of popularity and preference. In the creative digital economy, it is all about the value and benefits you create for public consumption and making them have that deep connection with your brand through realizing how valuable your brand is in their lives and business pursuits.

Startup Misconceptions

The term startup always makes most people think about tech creators and space exploration entrepreneurs sugar-coated with high possibilities of heavy funding from angel investors and venture capitalists. So, with the trending popularity of going deeper into entrepreneurship, it is helpful to demystify the term startup and its implication to brand building as an entrepreneur, freelancer, solopreneur, creator, tech inventor, and small business person.

A startup venture focuses on innovation and offers a product or service-based solution not yet designed and introduced. Most entrepreneurs who believe their ventures are startups heavily rely on funding, so they sell their ideas and solutions by making them appear to be human-centered as a disguise to raise money for fast growth. And they usually start with high costs but limited revenue.

Unlike self-sustaining small businesses, startups rely on investors who expect them to scale quickly into large business empires. That is a pitfall since brand building is a long process and an ongoing work in progress. And central to the long-term approach that upholds human and customer-centric principles in the present oversaturated market.

And that is where most of them miss the whole marketing game with some good sense and sensibility of brand building.  For their drive is to crash it fast and big to attract investors and dominate the market as far as possible within a short period. So, for branding, all startups are business ventures, but not all business ventures follow the startup business model. Here are the further misconceptions of the startups and their business model.

Startup Should Be Disruptive

That is the biggest misconception of startups. It is a common assumption of how startups want and seek to disrupt industries and change the world at scale. However, that mindset should not only refer to technological inventions, for it might further inflate the inconsiderate egos that already exist in most tech enthusiasts who think anything techy should be radically disruptive to change the world, even at the expense of humanity. Should it be? Nope!

In the past decade, the tech industry has come wild with the startup concept in the business landscape as a strategy for creating disruptive inventions with limited knowledge of what entrepreneurship should bring to the fore without taking the world for disruptive change and advancement.

Most tech entrepreneurs get only lured into this startup concept with little knowledge and drive of what it means to be an entrepreneur except to rely on being driven by investors, venture capitalists, and angel investors who expect nothing else from the startup idea except high returns of their heavy investments. 

Entrepreneurship focuses on problem-solving and streamlining solutions for seamless integration into already established programs and systems. The entrepreneurial approach is not radical and revolutionary, like how people conceive most tech startups in the business world.

 So, how best should you define yourself as a startup entrepreneur in any industry you have chosen to explore for sold brand building and navigate the business landscape with more human characteristics that can help you to be apply human and customer-centric principles that benefit humanity more than venture capitalism in the present creative digital economy? Let’s dig in and explore.

Startup Vision and Mission

It’s not about being trapped in venture capitalism but being visionary with your idea if you are the founder. If you are a hired CEO, it is about being of service above self in the organization by focusing on its vision and mission if it is already defined and clarified through the Brand Promise and Unique Value Proposition, guided by the purpose and value of the business venture.

So, your priority in what you do in your industry and niche market, like the AI tech sector, should not be based on the investors’ power and control with heavy investments for leveraging your skills and talent without a clarified vision and mission spelled out clearly in the business concept and model. The bottom line is you must be holistic and humane in your venture. Humanity should be your priority, not dramatic inhuman disruptions to garner attention from venture capitalists.

You can pause and ask yourself how many of the numerous tech startups you have seen on the web without a well-clarified vision and mission through a clear purpose and value statement, except CTAs on their landing pages. Most of them have scanty websites that serve nothing else but advertising the features and superficial benefits of their products and services, automated and gamified apps with little or no informative and educational content that brings value and benefit to fulfill the purpose and value of the internet as long back envisioned by the pioneer digital inventors and creators.

Remember, target audiences hardly know anything techy except the basics of reading an email and browsing the internet for information and data that help them in their lives and business ventures. Here is the thing. There is no such thing as a startup without an entrepreneurial mindset of putting humanity at the forefront of your venture. Anything in the present already digitally congested and AI tools-infested business landscape must be holistic and humane with clear human and customer-centric principles.

Startup with an Entrepreneurial Mindset

The conceptualization of a Startup, especially in the tech industry, can be too radical and fail to be holistic and humane in their inventions. It might result in overlooking the humanity, security, and safety of technological tools and apps that are manipulative to cause underlying unexpected harm to other established business platforms, channels, programs, and systems like CRMs and CMSs for seamless integration with relevant emerging technologies like Generative AI tools and apps.

In entrepreneurship, humanity comes first in providing value and benefit in the world or the business landscape. So, your startup should aim to design inventions that are not radically disruptive but something that helps and can easily integrate seamlessly without disruptions. 

Startups should start with the humane mindset of serving humanity and being of service to humanity by making tech inventions simple, practical, and functional for ease of human consumption without any complexities in their use and application.

That makes the business landscape more interesting to explore for the benefit of everyone concerned. You can think of tech platforms like Canva, Grammarly, Fiverr, Google, Udemy, and many others that have not yet been too much tempered around with AI that they end up marring their initial purpose and value in the market before Open AI ChatGPT introduction.

Clarity on Business Model and Product

It is funny how some tech enthusiasts hardly relate to simple technological apps like Gmail, Word, or Canva. But dream of inventing an overnight sensational AI tool or app that can generate billions from one click of a button. That spells technology in the wrong hands and susceptible to abuse and misuse of the internet. Minimalism can ensure you are not going overboard in your startup venture.

For me, clarity with the business model and product at the onset of your startup venture, whether tech or just coaching, is a strong foundation for the practical execution of the whole project concept without fearing failure in the real world.

Though risk-taking is part of the startup entrepreneurship game, reducing it with a well-defined business concept and model will limit losing trust with investors and eroding your confidence as an inventor or creator. The product must also be well prototyped with UX - User Experience, as the guiding principle, especially in a business landscape where people are tired of CTAs that compel them to buy stuff that complicates their lifestyles. And turn them into passive users and compromise their capabilities as human beings. Your product must assist human beings, not overtaking their capabilities to reason, decision-making, and solve problems.

You can sit back and reflect on this recent drama in the tech industry with our most sought-after Generative AI genius and tech media reports sensation and Generative AI star inventor Sam Altman at the center of the whole Open AI experiments and inventions, with his citation in the usual quiet mood of bringing yet another more powerful and better version of ChatGPT 3 or 4. And recently, the modified version of ChatGPT5 and probably 6. Whether small, big, or large, the bottom line is any tech invention by any entrepreneurial startup should put humanity at the forefront and contribute to making the world a better place to live, learn, work, and do business.

Make Your Startup Brandable

A brandable startup is an entrepreneurial business venture that puts service above self to provide value and benefit in the market. It does not apply to disruptive ventures that seek to make quick billion bucks out of scientific and tech adventures that would hardly translate into business ventures with the interest of their consumers and users at heart. No startup venture that threatens human extinction is acceptable as a brand. Never!

That is why it has become confusing to place startups as brands, for most of them hardly have a clear vision and mission that draws their contribution to humanity other than billionaires who are seeking nothing but adventure to waste their billions on expensive hobbies like space explorations and creating creatures that can overtake human beings in doing work. 

Of course, some functional ones, like automation for mundane and repetitive tasks, help in efficiency and reduce boredom at work. And some technological tools in heavy industries, like car manufacturing and mining robots, can be accepted.

But where human reasoning, thinking, and decision-making are required, using AI would be like insulting humanity and making them lose trust in their capabilities, as the fear that some employees have already experienced in most job opportunities that human beings have been placed with chatbot and undermining their abilities to do such jobs as human beings with five senses, unlike AI tools and apps.

In brand building, brandable suggests niche, specialization, focus, stability, and sustainability for longevity in the market. Branding through the brand promise is a commitment to exercise responsibility with your brand. It is not a sensational and viral presence online. It is not fancy and attention seeking, but a quiet fulfillment obligation to your target consumers and users.

That is why it relies on sustainable brand-building strategies through digital marketing. The branding spells out your purpose and value in the market. That makes you and your target market understand who you are, your voice, tone, beliefs, vision, mission, and principles that shape your startup as a brand in any industry you are operating. And that should contribute to making the business world a better space to do business for human impact in the digital economy.

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