October 7th, 2022 | by CSHARK

What Defines a Startup 2022 - Are You One of Them?

Table of contents

Startups are known for wanting to disrupt industries and change the world we live in. 

Their owners dream about creating a service or a product that hasn’t been developed yet. This article will serve you as a guide through the startup world, helping you find the answer to questions like:

  • How to build your own startup?
  • What are the common mistakes to avoid?
  • When is your company no longer considered a startup?

What is a definition of a startup?

A startup is a company or organization in its early stages, typically characterized by high uncertainty and risk. A startup’s success depends on its ability to solve a problem that people care about.

But what defines a startup in 2022? 

Startups must be adaptable and agile in order to survive and thrive in the current ever-changing landscape. They have to have a clear vision for their business and be able to execute that vision quickly and efficiently. 

The most successful startups are those that can identify a problem that people care about and then solve that problem in a unique and innovative way. These companies typically have a deep understanding of their target market and they’re able to create a product or service that meets the needs of this market.

What is a unicorn company?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the definition of a unicorn company varies depending on who you ask. However, most people agree that a unicorn company is a privately held startup with an estimate of $1 billion or more. These companies are typically characterized by high growth rates and large market potential.

How do startups work and how do they succeed?

Simply put, startups work like any other company – they have a group of employees that work together to create a product or service for their customers. 

One thing that distinguishes a startup from any other company is that delivers something that hasn’t been done before. Startups aim to create an entirely new thing. 

Let’s take restaurants as an example: a chain restaurant that is franchised by a chef – that’s a typical business. But if we take a ready-made meal delivery service – that’s an idea for a startup.

There’s also one more aspect that distinguishes startups from other businesses: growth and speed. Startups aim to expand quickly by improving their products. They often start as an MVP of some sort that is tested and gets perfected in iterations. Startups also look to rapidly grow their customer base by increasing market shares, which allows them to raise more money to expand even further.

Now you may wonder how startups succeed. Well, not all of them do, but there are a few common characteristics of those who get their claim to fame:

  1. They are passionate about their idea and are not afraid to support it.
  2. Their funders have relevant domain expertise.
  3. They are willing to put in all the time needed – even if it goes well beyond the 8-hour workday.
  4. They are unique or know that the time for their product has come.
  5. Their target market isn’t too niche to limit them.

Pros and cons of working for a startup

This section of the article is dedicated to those wondering if working for a startup is a good idea. 

Obviously, we can’t tell you what to do, but we can equip you with the advantages and disadvantages of working for a startup that might help you make up your mind.

First of all, working for a startup gives you more responsibilities and opportunities to learn. Since startups have fewer employees you’ll probably have to work in various roles. Startups are usually more relaxed as far as the work environment goes, with flexible hours, and more employee interactions.

On the other hand, working for a startup means an increased risk connected to the success and potential future of the company. As new businesses have to prove themselves and strengthen their position in the market, employees have to work to raise capital while competing with others, which can lead to higher stress levels.

How do you start a startup company?

The most crucial thing to have when starting a company is a great idea. From there, extensive market research is the next phase, which will help you determine if your idea is feasible. If all that is in place, you can go on and write down a business plan including goals, values, objectives, and the overall company structure. You can also start thinking about all resources that are necessary for your idea to come to life.

Another crucial step is obtaining funding if you don’t already have the money. That can come from loans or investors. After that, you’ll be ready to dive into the paperwork and deal with the legal aspects. The last step is to establish a suitable location for your business and think about a marketing plan in order to attract the first customers.

How much money do I need to start a startup?

This is one of those questions without a straightforward answer as the amount of money you need to start a startup depends on various factors such as the industry you’re in, the size and scope of your company, etc. 

However, a good rule of thumb is to always have at least enough money to cover your six-month operating costs. This will give you a buffer in case things don’t go as planned and will help ensure that your startup doesn’t run out of cash too quickly.

What are some common mistakes startups make?

There are a number of mistakes that startups often make but some of the most common ones include: not having a clear vision or plan for their business, not being able to execute their plan effectively, and not having a strong enough team. Apart from that they also tend to:

  • Overcomplicate things – when you’re starting out a good idea is to keep it simple and be transparent. You should plan out what you need and remove half of it.
  • Wait too long to launch – some companies wait too long to release their product. Releasing an MVP with fewer functionalities isn’t a failure but a time-saving as most of them aren’t the make-it-or-break-it of your product. Don’t let the scope get out of hand.
  • Get distracted – you have the destination and a cohesive strategy of how to get where you want to be. As an entrepreneur, it’s hard to stay focused as there’s a lot going on, but it’s crucial to move forward. Don’t be scared to adapt accordingly, but hold tight to the big idea.
  • Try too hard to win – most startups base their idea of the product on a feeling of what the customers want, but that idea has to be backed up by research. Always listen to your customers, ask them what they want and what they don’t want; how much are they willing to spend, and how to make the product attractive to them.
  • Underestimate the budget needed as mentioned above, it’s a good idea to have at least a 6-month emergency financial buffer if something goes wrong. While calculating, consider possible delays and always keep track of your spending.
  • Not be prepared for failure – in all the thrills and challenges of owning a business, did you ask yourself if you’re prepared to fail? If a difficulty arises, accept it, learn from your mistakes and change the business model if needed. Tweak your product according to feedback and don’t be scared to try something new.

What are some challenges startups face? 

Startups typically face a number of challenges including finding the right co-founders or team members, building an effective business model, developing and marketing their product or service, and scaling their business. Let’s look at those challenges in more detail as it can help to prepare accordingly.

  • Dealing with competition – the business world is definitely a fierce one. There’s always competition waiting for your failure right around the corner. Facing competition is one of the biggest challenges for the survival of a startup. In order to survive, you shouldn’t be afraid to fight for recognition in the market.
  • Ensuring security – in this digital age, security is crucial for the success of any business, especially those operating online. The rates of cyber crimes constantly increase and any unauthorized access to sensitive information may be lethal. Remember to get all security systems in place.
  • Hiring the most suitable team – the synergy of a team is an important factor in a startup culture. To ensure that, you’ll need suitable candidates. Be picky, select only the people with the capabilities you need and a shared focus.
  • Finding the right partners – a partnership can sometimes be the essence of success. In this competitive era, it may be hard to find trustworthy partners. Before making any decisions, look for companies that work in the same ecosystem, have a great reputation, and presence within the market.
  • Winning the customers – earning customers’ trust is crucial for a startup’s success. Always listen intently to what they have to say and react to their feedback. Ask for their opinions, and how you can help them find the solutions to their problems.

What are some common things that successful startups do?

There are a number of things that successful startups do in order to achieve success. These include: having a clear vision, dedication, commitment, and perseverance. 

Startup owners are resilient visionaries that cope with challenges while pursuing their passion. Their plan for their business with a great product-market fit and building their offering with an effective team. 

What’s more, successful startups develop a strong work ethic in a dynamic environment. Their owners and management have a strong influence on the company culture, setting up common values and beliefs while fostering collaboration and productivity. 

Lucrative companies often leave their ego behind and are not afraid of outsourcing. They don’t fight rejection and are ready to take full responsibility for everything. Instead of blaming others for falling behind, they draw conclusions and get back on track. If you can do these things, you’ll be well on your way to startup success.

Signs your business is still a startup

If you already own a startup company, you may wonder ‘When will I know if my business is still considered a startup?’. Well, we’re here to help you determine that.

  • You’re still working on your branding – since startups don’t have an already established brand identity they’re focusing on developing it. A solid brand helps to make your business recognizable to customers, but it all can take time.
  • You’re still testing markets – if you’re still trying to check the feasibility of your ideas and determine your target audience you definitely are considered a startup.
  • You still hire employees for your company – obviously being in the hiring process is not only the distinguisher of startups, but if your company is still looking for the most essential staff you’re probably still a startup.

Signs your business is no longer a startup

But what if we flip the coin and ask what are the key points that help to determine whether your business is well beyond the startup phase, we can find that:

  • You acquire other companies – if you’re looking or are in the process of acquiring another startup, you’re definitely a mature organization. This can be beneficial for many reasons including getting access to a specialized talent pool, gaining control over a bigger market share, and getting a competitive edge.
  • There’s more paperwork – as businesses grow they usually become more bureaucratic, formal, and with standardized processes.
  • You’re making products that fit the market – if you’re actively selling a product that is desired and adjusted to the market, it’s definitely an indicator that you moved beyond the startup stage.

Moving beyond the startup stage will bring benefits that take your business to the next level. You will be able to attract and retain more qualified employees as you continue to build a brand identity. Your culture and reputation are going to appeal to the top job seekers. Your budget will also greatly increase as you will be generating more revenue and focusing on investments. More money will give you flexibility and the ability to scale up.


Startups are adaptive and lean. They independently work toward innovation while searching for a loyal customer base. They’re trying to solve a problem by filling a gap in the market and changing the ways things are done. 

If you’re looking to build a company yourself, before you embark on your startup journey, write down a detailed business plan and get funding in place. Prepare yourself for a challenging, yet rewarding journey, be open to feedback, and don’t give up.


This article wouldn’t have been written without the engagement of our CSHARKers! It was created thanks to their expert knowledge & extensive experience. As multiple people were involved in the consultancy, creation, and verification process, we figured it’s not fair to list just one of us as an author. Let’s say it was a collective work of many great minds.