Venture Voice – interviews with entrepreneurs

Entertaining Entrepreneurship

The Difference Between a Small Business and a Small Business Mentality

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Advertising Age, a publication not known for being aimed at small businesses, published an article titled Why Small Marketers Need to Reach for the Stars.

While we’re reminded all large businesses start small, the point of the article is that there are no special rules of small business that small businesses need to follow. In other words, think big. And what better examples than Bill Gates and Michael Dell?

At one point, IBM offered Gates $2 million for the basic operating system he had written for the IBM PC. Now if he had thought of himself as a “small business” operator, I’m sure that Gates would have been happy to take the two mil. (How many of the country’s 23 million small businesses could be bought out for $2 million a piece? Probably the vast majority.)

In his sophomore year, Michael Dell left the University of Texas to launch his personal-computer company, a business he had founded in his dorm room. And what company was Dell’s major competitor at the time? Would you believe, it was IBM.


This is an important distinction. Entrepreneurs are often grouped with the small business owners. But what does Bill Gates (even a young Bill Gates) really have in common with someone who stays a self-employed programmer?

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