Definition of start

What is a startup?

The term “start-up” refers to a company in the early stages of operations. Startups are founded by one or more entrepreneurs who want to develop a product or service for which they believe there is a demand. These companies generally start out with high costs and limited income, so they seek capital from a variety of sources, such as venture capitalists.

Key takeaways

  • A startup is a company that is in the initial stages of business.
  • Until the business takes off, a startup is often funded by its founders and may try to attract outside investment.
  • The many sources of financing for startups include family and friends, venture capitalists, crowdfunding, and loans.
  • Startups must also consider where they will do business and their legal structure.
  • Startups carry a high risk, as failure is very possible, but they can also be unique places to work with great payoffs, a focus on innovation, and great opportunities to learn.

Understanding Startups

Startups are companies or ventures that focus on a single product or service that the founders want to bring to market. These companies generally do not have a fully developed business model and, more importantly, they lack adequate capital to move to the next phase of the business. Most of these companies are initially funded by their founders.

Many startups turn to others for more funding: family, friends, and venture capitalists. Silicon Valley is known for its strong community of venture capitalists and is a popular destination for startups, but it is also widely considered the most demanding field.

Start-ups can use seed capital to invest in research and develop their business plans. Market research helps determine demand for a product or service, while a comprehensive business plan describes the mission statement, vision, and objectives of the company, as well as management and marketing strategies.

Examples of Startups

Dotcoms were a common startup in the 1990s. Venture capital was extremely easy to obtain during this time due to the frenzy among investors to speculate on the emergence of these new businesses. Unfortunately, most of these internet startups eventually went bankrupt due to major flaws in their business plans, such as a lack of a path to sustainable income. However, a handful of companies survived when the dot-com bubble burst. Both Amazon (AMZN) and eBay (EBAY) are examples.

The early years are very important for startups, a period during which entrepreneurs must focus on raising capital and developing a business model.

Many startups fail in the first few years. That is why this initial period is important. Entrepreneurs need to find money, create a business model and business plan, hire key personnel, work out intricate details like equity stakes for partners and investors, and plan for the long term. Many of today’s most successful companies, Microsoft (MSFT), Apple (AAPL), and Facebook (FB) to name a few, started out as startups and ended up becoming publicly traded companies.

Special Considerations


Start-ups must decide whether their business is conducted online, in an office or home office, or in a store. The location depends on the product or service being offered. For example, a tech startup selling virtual reality hardware may need a physical store to provide customers with a face-to-face demonstration of the product’s complex features.

Legal structure

Startups should consider which legal structure best suits their entity. A sole proprietorship is suitable for a founder who is also the key employee of a company. Partnerships are a viable legal structure for companies that consist of several people who have joint ownership, and they are also fairly straightforward to establish. Personal liability can be reduced by registering a startup as a limited liability company (LLC).


Startups often raise funds by turning to family and friends or by turning to venture capitalists. This is a group of professional investors who specialize in financing startups. Crowdfunding has become a viable way for many people to access the cash they need to advance the business process. The entrepreneur creates an online crowdfunding page, allowing people who believe in the company to donate money.

Startups can use credit to start their operations. A perfect credit history can allow the startup to use a line of credit for financing. This option carries the highest risk, especially if startup is unsuccessful. Other businesses choose small business loans to help fuel growth. Banks often have several specialized options available to small businesses: A microloan is a short-term, low-interest product designed for startups. A detailed business plan is often required to qualify.

Advantages and disadvantages of startups

There are a variety of advantages to working for a startup. More responsibility and opportunities to learn are two. Since startups have fewer employees than large established companies, employees tend to perform many functions, performing a variety of roles, leading to more responsibility and learning opportunities.

Startups tend to be more relaxed in nature, making the workplace more of a community experience, with flexible hours, greater employee interaction, and flexibility. Startups also tend to have better workplace benefits, such as childcare, free food, and shorter workweeks.

Work in startups can also be more rewarding, as innovation is welcome and managers allow talented employees to execute ideas with little supervision.

One of the main disadvantages of a startup is increased risk. This mainly applies to the success and longevity of a startup. Startups must prove themselves and raise capital before they can start making a profit. Keeping investors happy with the startup’s progress is critical. The risk of closing or not having enough capital to continue operations before making a profit is always present.

Startups tend to have long hours, since everyone works with the same goal: to see that the startup is successful. This can create times of great stress and sometimes compensation that does not correspond to the hours worked. The competition is also always high, as there are usually a handful of startups working on the same idea.

How do you start a start-up company?

The first step in starting a startup is having a great idea. From there, market research is the next step to determine how feasible the idea is and what the current market looks like for your idea. After market research, the next step is to create a business plan that outlines the structure, goals, mission, values, and objectives of your company.

Next, one of the most important steps is obtaining financing. This can come from savings, friends and family, investors, or a loan. After fundraising, make sure you have done all the correct legal and administrative paperwork. This means registering your business and obtaining the necessary licenses or permits. After this, establish a business location. From there, create an advertising plan to attract customers, establish a customer base, and adapt as your business grows.

How do you get a startup loan?

A startup can get a loan from a bank, certain organizations, or friends and family. One of the best and first options should be to work with the US Small Business Administration (SBA), which offers microloans to small businesses. The average SBA loan is $ 13,000 and the maximum loan amount is $ 50,000. These loans generally come from community non-profit lenders and may be easier to obtain than traditional bank loans.

What are the benefits of working for a startup?

The benefits of working at a startup include greater opportunities to learn, greater responsibility, flexible work hours, a relaxed work environment, greater interaction with employees, good workplace benefits, and innovation.

How do you rate a newly created company?

Valuing a startup can be difficult, as startups often don’t have the longevity to determine their success. New companies also do not generate profit or even income for a few years after starting. As such, the use of traditional financial statement metrics for valuations does not apply. Some of the best ways to value a startup include cost to duplicate, market multiples, discounted cash flow (DCF), and valuation by stage.

The bottom line

Starting a business can be a difficult but rewarding endeavor. Having a great idea and trying to bring it to market comes with a number of challenges, such as attracting capital, employees, marketing, legal work, and managing finances; however, new businesses lead to greater job satisfaction and the possibility of leaving a legacy.

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About the author

Mark Holland

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