Why Every New Business Isn't A Startup

Aug 22, 2016

Americans have been starting small businesses for centuries.

So why does it seems like every new business is suddenly a “startup?”

To unpack the jargon, Rickey Bevington spoke with Cassius Butts, Region IV Director of the U.S. Small Business Administration.



 Interview Highlights

On the definition of startup


Startups, in our world, typically look at those individuals who've never been in business before who are seeking guidance and direction from those resources -- sometimes government -- that can help to guide them to scale up and get to the next level of selling their product or marketing themselves.

On the first time he heard the word 'startup'

The first time I heard the word startup was probably around the late 1990's or early 2000's around the dot com era. I think that one of the things that was missing at that time was having seasoned businesses in place that can help to guide those 'startups' to say "You have a great product but let's show you how to stay in business and let's show you how to rely on other resources." I think that's something that may have been missing at that time.

On how 'startup' refers not just to a business, but to an ecosystem


Many of the folks who are considered millennials today have a different wordsmith, a certain branding and ways to market themselves. We're trying to find ways of wrapping our arms around them by having initiatives such as Startup in a Day to help those who are looking to start business to show them how to do it more efficiently, to be more fluid. That's just one of the ways we're trying to be a resource -- not a mandate -- but a resource.


On why government is investing in startups

When we think about re-branding this country, we're looking at how we can bring manufacturing back to the United States. I believe we have to wrap our arms around those who are looking to become entrepreneurs to show them how to keep manufacturing here in the United States but also how to market and brand yourself so you can position yourself to work abroad or to export or to import. UnderArmour, FedEx, Spanx, Microsoft -- those were all startups.