Steve Blank, one of the eminent thinkers in the startup world, defines a startup as a temporary organization designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model.
It’s an intriguing point of view: First of all it makes you understand that whatever you think your organizations is today and will be in the future — it’s in a state of flux. What you have today is temporary; it’s only here to get you to the next step. Secondly, and this is even more important to understand, your sole job as an entrepreneur is to find a “repeatable and scalable business model”.
This flies somewhat into the face of what some people (especially here in Silicon Valley) perceive as the purpose of their endeavor: Build a cool product (for the sake of building a product).
Your product is only your entry ticket. It buys you the right to play. The real game is about finding a working business model.
No business model — no company. Simple as that.