For some reason I’ve always been reluctant to say that I run a startup. I’ve never called what I do being a startup. I’ve thought of it more as a small business.
When people have asked me what I do, I would respond by saying ‘I run a business’.
But where is the line drawn between a startup and a small business?
Some small businesses are always going to be small businesses. A local shop is probably a good example of this. The business model of a shop is pretty obvious. It sells [specific] stuff.
But what about other businesses that cross the line a bit, like Software Testing Club.
I set up Software Testing Club as a company a couple of years ago and since then I’ve been trying to figure out a business model that I feel happy with.
I have constantly been asking myself: ‘How is this thing going to make money?’
Progress is good, but I’m still figuring it out. There is traction in a few areas and it is making money, but I don’t feel like I’m quite there with that ‘scalable, repeatable revenue model’ that startups quite often talk about as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Obviously being ‘Software Testing Club’ then there is only so far it can scale – our market is limited, but it is global and still big enough to grow. There is also the angle that what we are building is not necessarily innovation in technology. We are not creating a tech product. Everything we do is more focused around software testers and how we can serve that community.
My reluctance to use the word also comes from me associating the word ‘startup’ with those hi-tech VC funded companies that we associate with keywords like ‘Twitter’ or ‘Facebook’. I don’t have the ambitions or goals to grow like that, it doesn’t feel compatible with my business or (personal) life goals.
However, I went to a local Lean Startup Meetup recently. It was the first one in Brighton and was mostly just a networking thing where we were supposed to introduce ourselves, why we were there and what we do.
My focus in that situation was on Test Ninjas (you know…a fab community of freelance testers that can find those important problems with your websites and apps).
It was then that I realised that it made total sense (in that situation) to say ‘I run a startup’. And you know what? It felt great. It brought a smile to myself. I thought I’m actually doing creating a little startup here. And as I was talking to others just starting out it made me realise how far down the line I am – both in the progress STC has made as a whole, but also my experience and knowledge in business has grown considerably.
Most of the business ideas have been floating around my head and started to formulate 6 years ago. It has only been with time and consistent effort to research, discover and try things out that I am where I am today.
I set up the STC as a company 2 years ago when I felt it was the right time to completely focus my energy on building it into a proper company. The community itself has been around since 2007, but it’s something I personally cover the costs for and I really didn’t anticipate being where I am now with it!
Sure, I’ve still got a long way to go, it’s completely boot strapped, but I am figuring out what my customers want, I have some answers, but perhaps if I knew them all it wouldn’t be a startup, or would it? 🙂
Startup or not, it’s all good challenging fun!