Running a Startup is Sexy, Building Business is Boring. You Decide

In Entrepreneurship by Ashish Sinha12 Comments

Running a Startup is quite a sexy thing to do, but building a business is boring.

Look at Google.

The amount of boring work that goes in running the money making business – adwords and adsense (two sides of the same coin)

  • Purely Operational.
  • Need to setup the logistics partnership (even though it’s outsourced, G has to manage vendors relationships).
  • Work with publishers – go after high quality ones. Build relationships. Follow up with them.
  • Run after advertisers – Chase them, please them. Whatever it is, just get them.
  • Build a ‘F**king’ process and ensure that there is no crack in the system (avoid such stupid #fail)
  • Support team to handle queries from advertisers/publishers.

How many startups stop at the technology innovation and go the next mile to build a business?

Infact, how much of technology is involved in building a successful business? 20%? 40%? 80%? [Take your pick.]

Building a Business is a lot more than ‘running a startup’.

Startups stop at ‘Product’, while Business starts with ‘Product’.

Some of the ‘boring’ business stuff that one needs to do (generically put):

  • Figure out distribution partnerships/mechanism.
  • Build channel relationships
  • Figure out ‘value prop’ for different customer segments (and train sales/marketing team).
  • Take care of customization, especially for large customer accounts.
  • Make a mark at various trade shows/industry events.
  • Pre-purchase/Post-purchase service
  • Design a ‘Process’ (yes! you hate the ‘P’ word, right?)

You decide what you are building. But do not confuse one over the other.


[And we will be discussing more of these @UnPluggd Event]


  1. Vishnu

    I strongly believe this!! But am seriously good at “Boring part” and am reforming the team to look at sexy part!!

  2. ashok

    hmm..well on my part i feel here there are two things to notice the exicitement in startups is always much ahead when compared to later one. secondly my self being from a startup I could surely say that the amount of innovation and freedom to commit mistakes and learn from it is higly possible here since the coupling of protocols is loose with work, where as in building businnes following protocols is high priority task which majority of us dont want..

    It all depends on “Expertise Vs Experience”..

  3. Tharachand Suryadevara

    I would say it is a classic practical post that each enterpreneur(s) experience in their journey of transforming the “Startup” to a “Business”. We tend to think on the strategies, plans etc in the initial stages but still have to focus on the boring operational activities of establishment as firstly we wouldn’t have enough resources to delegate and secondly, we wouldn’t want to compromise on the quality of operational work as each action boils down to the brand image.

    I think, setting up the processes in place while we are small would help in the transformation as nothing can be achieved overnight when we are big and despite having necessary resources.

  4. Siddhartha Reddy

    Good work pointing out the differences between a startup and a business. I think one could say that one of the goals of (most) of the startups is to become a business.

    But what is “sexy” and what is “boring” really depends on a person. I know people who find the “boring” things you describe to be quite exciting (and are in fact doing an excellent job precisely because of that.) I therefore believe that a good startup team has people who complement each other in what they find to be “sexy” and what they find to be “boring”.

    [Excuse me for the excessive usage of quotes.]

  5. Arun

    making money is a boring business :-) .. a startup enjoys great highs and great lows that’s part of the excitement.

  6. Jeff

    It really boils down to what you intend to do with your business. I would say that the ‘sexiest’ time to be in a business is when you’re developing the concept, the brand, the product, and getting people on board to share the adventure with you. You have a point about the mundane though – repetitive tasks are fun for nobody!

  7. Sharad

    The bottom line is – if you dont actually enjoy “all” of the tasks listed above- you dont stand a chance.

  8. Saurabh Gupta

    Ashish, I think it’s not the right approach to look at entrepreneurship. I think building the business through routine stuff is part of the deal. I think endurance or patience is the key skill required to sustain tough times, and I don’t think you would disagree that a startup goes through lot of tough times before becoming Google – it’s in the DNA.
    Entrepreneurs are born weird – they think smart but stick to a problem till it’s solved.
    One more important ingredient that’s require to build a business is TEAM. A team is well mixed set of individuals with complementing skill-sets who are God in various domains. So, a good technology guy should always team up with good Marketing and Operations guy to make the team complete.
    While I agree being part of the Startup sounds SEXY, but I don’t think it’s the right approach when you are there for a longer term and I guess every entrepreneur would agree that it’s actually not “Cool” or “Sexy” that drives their passion. It’s something much bigger – a cause worth working for. If it is “SEXY” that makes one start a venture then he would get sidelined one day or the other.

    I think there is a need to look over this subject in a more holistic way.

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