The entrepreneurial journey : Startup or SME ?

Are you an aspiring entrepreneur wondering whether you should venture into SME or startup business? Or even if you already have a business are unsure whether it is an SME or a startup? Worry not, because this article is for you. In this article, Giovanni Jolicoeur, the founder of Start Your Business, draws upon his long-decade experience as an entrepreneur and a recent foray into the startup landscape to demystify this subject for you.

Over the years, I have encountered numerous entrepreneurs in Africa, some navigating the realm of “Startups”, and others steering the course as “SMEs”. Despite countless similarities, startups are different from normal SME. As an entrepreneur, the path you choose—a startup or an SME—entails its own set of implications and dilemmas. Although the journey may share common ground, your ambition will ultimately determine whether you evolve into an SME or a Startup.

About risks, innovation and growth

First, for startup entrepreneurs, the journey often begins in the early stages, focusing on innovation, growth, and disrupting markets. In contrast, SME entrepreneurs oversee more established businesses, emphasizing stability, efficiency, and gradual growth.

Next, let's talk about risk. Startups usually take more risks, aiming for innovation and quick growth. SME entrepreneurs often prefer a more cautious approach, prioritizing stability and steady growth.

Second, the organizational structure in both worlds differs. Startups are known for their flexible setups, adapting quickly to changes and expanding by hiring. Conversely, SMEs have a more defined structure with established processes.

Third, SME entrepreneurs generally excel in delivering consistent results and maintaining stability. They focus on building a strong foundation, nurturing long-term customer relationships, and optimizing resources. Many SME owners aim for a livelihood and a legacy for their children, driven by the desire to be their own boss.

Startup entrepreneurs, on the other hand, thrive in uncertainty, embracing disruption and pursuing rapid growth. They use cutting-edge technologies, take calculated risks, and pivot to meet market demands. It's crucial to note, however, that the hypergrowth characteristic of startups leads to distinct profitability dynamics, attracting different types of investors and necessitating unique financial instruments. Despite their differences, a common denominator unites both worlds: the Entrepreneur.

Shared traits and Tenacity

First, both an SME and a Startup entrepreneur share a common spirit marked by initiative, innovation, and a drive to create and grow businesses.

Second, adaptability is crucial for both. They must be flexible and responsive to market changes, customer feedback, and new opportunities to stay relevant and competitive.

Third, Persistence and Determination are necessary for both startup and SME entrepreneurs. Overcoming challenges, navigating uncertainties, and achieving enduring success demands commitment to goals. Hard work is key. Entrepreneurs managing businesses without working harder than the average employee are quite rare.

In the midst of challenges and decisions, it's crucial to recognize that the journey itself is the genuine reward. Embrace the process, commemorate accomplishments, and learn from setbacks. It's about the valuable insights gained and relationships formed – with employees, suppliers, customers, or others.

As you reach the culmination of your entrepreneurial journey, remember that your founder quest is the core. Seize every opportunity, relish each step, and savour the journey. Embrace challenges for growth, seize opportunities, and ensure the destination echoes with your determination and passion. Take this inspiration into action—apply insights, foster meaningful relationships, and propel your entrepreneurial legacy forward with purpose and impact.


La Plage Factory 29 Nov, 2023 LPF