Startups vs. Small Businesses: Shocking Truths You Never Knew!

entrepreneurs raising funding

As entrepreneurs in Africa, we're part of a unique and dynamic business landscape. Understanding the type of business you're building – a high-growth startup or a small, sustainable business – is crucial. Today, I want to share insights from Roger Norton, CPO at OkHi, who has over a decade of experience shaping products for our markets.


Understanding Startups vs. Small Businesses

Roger Norton draws a clear line between startups and small businesses. A startup, he explains, is geared towards hyper-growth, often requiring substantial investment in research, technology, and development. It's a journey filled with risks but with the potential for high rewards.

In contrast, a small business is about sustainability. It's the steady growth of a traditional business model, where the focus is on operational efficiency and gradual expansion.

Why This Matters

This distinction is vital because the roadmap to success varies dramatically between these two. The strategies, funding options, and growth tactics you'll employ depend heavily on whether you're running a startup or a small business.


Raising Investment as a Small Business

Expanding Beyond Traditional Models

  • Training and Scaling: Norton highlights a crucial aspect for small businesses looking to attract investors like Angels or even VCs: the ability to train others effectively. This training enables the business owner to move beyond the "1 unit of work for 1 unit of income" model. By demonstrating that the business can operate and grow without the owner's direct input on every task, it becomes a more attractive investment opportunity. This scalability is key for investors who look for businesses that can multiply their output with less direct input over time.
  • Tech-Enabled Efficiency: Another avenue for small businesses to attract investment is through the integration of technology. By adding a layer of tech that can automate tasks and processes, a small business can significantly scale its output. This tech integration transforms the business model, making it more efficient and scalable. Such advancements can make a small business appealing to investors who are looking for companies that leverage technology for growth and efficiency.

Traditional Funding Methods

  • Customer Revenue: Norton emphasises customer revenue as a primary and effective funding source. Achieving sales, especially pre-sales or through crowdfunding, is a direct validation of your business in the market.
  • Debt Funding: This includes business loans, invoice factoring, and other borrowing methods. Suitable for models with predictable cash flow, debt funding is a viable option for businesses not yet ready or suitable for equity investment.
  • Grants and Support Loans: Exploring grants and small business loans designed to support traditional business models. These funding sources are particularly useful for businesses focusing on steady growth and sustainability.


Whether you're building a startup or a small business, your journey will be unique, especially in the diverse and evolving African markets. Embrace the journey that aligns with your vision, and tailor your strategies to your business type.

Remember, at Pranary, we're here to support you, whether you're aiming for the stars with a startup or building a strong foundation with a small business. Each path has its challenges and rewards, and we're here to help you navigate them.

Stay bold, stay inspired, and let's build businesses that make a difference!

Watch the Clip with Roger Norton here.

Do you need support?

Join our Pranary Community where entrepreneurs like you get access to world-class resources, top industry experts, tried and tested methods, online and in-person events and so much more.

*We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.