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Are You a Hot Start-Up or Simply a Small Business?

Start-ups are attracting more than just popular interest these days, they are attracting investment, and regulations are being reviewed to promote further growth. If you want to take advantage of Australia’s anticipated start-up boom, it could be time to ask whether you are a hot start-up, or just a small business.

So what is a start-up exactly?

Start-ups are those dynamic, entrepreneurial, often technology-based business ventures that companies like Facebook and eBay used to be before they became mega corporations. Start-up owners find a need for a product or service that others fail to notice, and fill it with something that people suddenly find they can’t live without. Start-ups don’t stick to local or national boundaries, and they have the capacity for ridiculously fast growth. The number one start-up of all time, according to entrepreneurial resource Verge, is Apple.

How is it different to a small business?

What a start-up is not is a small business. If you have just established an enterprise along the lines of a takeaway restaurant or a fashion boutique – one that draws on a limited market in a defined area – then you have a small business. Small businesses lack the ‘no limits’ gene that takes start-ups from garage-based hobbies to world dominators.

Australia’s response to the start-up revolution

According to a study commissioned by Google Australia, start-ups could contribute four per cent of GDP ($109 billion) by 2033. But according to peak national start-up organisation StartupAUS, there are obstacles to start-ups here. One of these is Australia’s limitations on crowd-sourced equity funding, where investors purchase part of the start-up. In Australia, only investors who earn $250,000 or have $2.5 million in assets can currently enter into crowd-sourced equity funding, which means the pool of investors here is low compared to somewhere like the US.

Intended to protect naive investors – mum and dad losing their life savings in a start-up that fails – many business commentators are now warning that this limit on small investors means we could stunt start-up growth. The laws around crowd-sourced equity funding are currently being reviewed by the federal government.

Using digital technology to streamline business

Whether you have a start-up that is going places fast, or a cafe in your local shopping centre, you can take advantage of the technology revolution in any number of ways, including in communications.

By using a virtual fax set up on your computer, you can sidestep the cost and hassle of having a fax machine installed in your business and the cost of line installation and rental.

With a virtual fax number, you can send and receive a fax online. It works by using your existing internet provider and your email browser. Fax documents are sent as attachments to an email addressed to the recipient’s fax number. You can send large files by email – up to 1GB – because with the virtual fax you are bypassing your email provider’s attachment limit.

You can even use your smartphone by downloading the eFax app, which allows you to fax from wherever you are. Free cloud storage means faxes can be archived and you can add a digitised signature to a contract to seal deals when you are out of the office. There are many ways virtual faxing can save your business time and money.

Small business and start-ups: both are vital

By now you should have a better idea of whether you are a small business or a start-up. While start-ups often have the glam factor, both types of enterprise are important. Small businesses, including start-ups, employ 4.5 million people and contribute $330 billion to the Australian economy annually. In a way, start-ups are the more flamboyant, risk-taking younger brothers of small business.

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