Should I Build a Startup or a Small Business? What’s the Difference?

There are huge differences between a small business and a startup. Here's how to tell which one is right for you.

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I spent the rest of the weekend working with Case on new business models and products, and left these meetings with a grand new business idea.

My startup journey led me to launch LabDoor, a mobile health startup that provides report cards for  your medicine cabinet. Products are graded based on safety, efficacy, and price. Behind the scenes, technical experts analyze top FDA, clinical and independent lab data that informs the product safety apps. Building this startup has been the perfect opportunity to continue my obsession with science, while greatly expanding the amount of people that will benefit from this research.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with starting your entrepreneurial career with a small business mentality. Building a solid financial base will help create a longer financial runway for future startup ventures. Also, establishing a successful small business can build credibility and networks within your local business community that will be hugely valuable when launching a startup that requires outside angel and VC investments. But while you do that, be careful not to get too comfortable with a steady paycheck.

How do you decide which one is right for you?

First, ask yourself, what is my tolerance for risk? And what is my tolerance for failure? Because no matter where you are in your life, it is a great exercise to stop everything and visualize your absolute top-end potential. It’s the kind of brainstorming you did as a kid, when you imagined being the President or, even better, an astronaut.

Then, start by deciding the biggest problem in the world that you want to solve.  Develop your ideal solution to this problem, and then invite your trusted friends and family to poke holes in it. Iterate until you’ve got an awesome idea. If you can build a great team around your awesome solution, now you can stretch one foot into the world of startups.

Finally, determine your top objective. Is your long-term goal to build a nest egg or make a dent in the universe?

What do you really want out of your life in five years?

Connect with Neil on Twitter.


Neil Thanedar is the founder and CEO of LabDoor, a mobile health startup providing consumer-focused product safety ratings. At 24, Neil is the visionary and scientific mind behind a company seeking to replace the FDA and Big Pharma as our top sources of safety information about pharmaceuticals, supplements, and cosmetics.


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