Startups are not businesses – that’s one of the things you should understand as an entrepreneur. A startup is missing a number of key things that make up a business, such as a business plan and a clear idea of the market. At the start, you might not even have a product, not one in its final base iteration anyway. With a little patience and a lot of effort, it can eventually turn into one.
But what are the signs your startup is all grown up and ready to take on the world? Here are a few things to keep in mind.
1. You Have Sales Records
One of the biggest problems entrepreneurs have when running a startup is they lack proof of concept. The idea is sound and the market seems ready, but there are no actual sales numbers to back it up. Proving the value of your company to investors can be difficult without those. But a business startup has proven sales numbers. You’ve got a strong revenue stream going and investors can’t wait to be a part of it.
2. The Product is Finalized
Successful entrepreneurs don’t run into a full launch without testing the market. That’s because they know the market will inevitably have their own ideas about how the product should be designed, and things must be adjusted accordingly. What you envisioned your product becoming and what it finally becomes may be two very different things. But after a few months, you’ll probably have a functional base to develop iterations around.
That’s a sign that your startup is now a business. Your base product exists and is refined, and all that’s left is to create new iterations through innovation.
3. You Know the Market Wants Your Product
At the beginning, all you have is educated guesswork. You have a great product, and you think people will want to buy it. You went through countless variations of your product and eventually, you released it to the public – and they love it. They can’t get enough of it. The market wants your product and you know it. What was once a theory now has proof that the market wants it. The target audience is receptive and your marketing campaigns are on point.
4. The Startup is Safer
Much of a startup’s early life revolves around risk management. Everything you do as an entrepreneur is focused on managing potential problems. You have an untested idea, little to no revenue, and a hypothetical business level.
You know your startup has turned into a business when your focus has shifted from mitigating and managing risk towards actively taking risks that benefit the company. At your back is a proven record and a business plan, both of which allow you to properly evaluate any and all risks you think of taking.
5. You Have a Clear and Established Process
Your early life as an entrepreneur involves a lot of flexibility. You’re trying to make do with limited resources, making a solidified process difficult to establish. After a while, when you have revenue coming in, you can start establishing a real process. This is a sign that you’ve started transitioning from a startup approach to a growth-centric one. When you have a process, you’re not just trying to get things done – you’re trying to get things done as well and as efficiently as possible.
6. Funding Comes to You
Many startups starve for funding at the beginning. Much of your effort will revolve around simply getting enough money to get things started, but that’s not always going to be the case. Eventually your efforts will pay off and word will get around of your business startup. At one point people will be going to you and asking if they can invest in your company. No longer will you have to walk into meetings with a dream and a theory. Investors will walk into your company looking for an opportunity. That’s a clear sign that you can start the transition from a startup mentality to a growth-centric one.
It’s a massive milestone in your life as an entrepreneur when you end the startup phase and move onto the growth phase. Celebrate it – not all startups make it to this point. There’s a lot of work ahead, but don’t let that stop you. Live the dream.