How to turn a traditional business into a startup

The 18th dimension
3 min readFeb 12, 2016


With so many stories about teenagers getting rich after creating an app that goes viral, startups are becoming part of the mainstream media. However not many people understand the difference between these businesses and regular SME’s (Small & Medium Enterprises).

So, before giving you a few pointers on how to take your traditional business to the next level, let’s clarify the meaning of startup. The word itself implies a “beginning” and launch into something new, a new venture. Although the definition of “startup” has been a point of debate, it usually involves innovative and disruptive business models, either through technological, logistical or statistical methods.

How to identify it’s time your business becomes a startup:

Transforming your business into a startup could simply mean taking it to a more advanced level. For example, you may decide that your grocery store has international potential. Or maybe you’ve found a way to insert technology in your business process that others can replicate. Whatever the reason, if you feel your business has reached its limits, and you’ve gained know-how that has a lot of potential to impact the market, it’s time you consider taking the startup route.

What you need to develop your startup:

If you decide that your traditional company must evolve to become startup, you need two essential elements: innovation and new technologies.

Consider the following:

  1. Organize your ideas and ask: what is the problem your business wants to solve and how are you going to do it.
  2. Define your consumer or audience: Remember that this is the target group for your startup. The more you know about them, the better you can discover or define a way to provide a service or product that solves the problem this group is facing.
  3. Get a deeper understanding of your consumers: age, gender, profession, problems or anxieties they face in their daily lives, in where they live and what’s their financial status.
  4. Analyze the competition: Research startups that have failed or succeeded. This will offer a lot of information in the most appropriate way for your business.
  5. Once you have all of this information, determine what are your technical and design needs.
  6. Look for advisors: it is always good to learn from experts in the field. In addition, it is always good to know what financial changes you can implement to help your startup grow.

There are many sources that can guide you on how to start a startup. Look for programs and accelerators such as Parallel18 and Grupo Guayacán in Puerto Rico, Start-Up Chile, Alpha Accelerator in Dominican Republic, Founders Institute, which has chapters around the world, and other initiatives in your community that can help develop your growth strategy.

The most important thing is to step out of the comfort zone and try to go beyond the limits of a traditional business. Look for the opportunities and dare to create a high-impact startup with global potential!

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The 18th dimension

Parallel18 is an innovation hub that represents a unique gateway for global startups to scale from Puerto Rico.