Investors are generally most attracted to those new companies distinguished by their strong co-founding team, a balanced "risk/reward" profile (in which high risk due to the untested, disruptive innovations is balanced out by high potential returns) and "scalability" (the likelihood that a startup can expand its operations by serving more markets or more customers). Attractive startups generally have lower "bootstrapping" (self-funding of startups by the founders) costs, higher risk, and higher potential return on investment. Successful startups are typically more scalable than an established business, in the sense that the startup has the potential to grow rapidly with a limited investment of capital, labor or land. Timing has often been the single most important factor for biggest startup successes, while at the same time it's identified to be one of the hardest things to master by many serial entrepreneurs and investors.
Bootstrapping in business means starting a business without external help or capital. Such startups fund the development of their company through internal cash flow and are cautious with their expenses. Generally at the start of a venture, a small amount of money will be set aside for the bootstrap process. Bootstrapping can also be a supplement for econometric models. Bootstrapping was also expanded upon in the book Bootstrap Business by Richard Christiansen, the Harvard Business Review article The Art of Bootstrapping and the follow-up book The Origin and Evolution of New Businesses by Amar Bhide.
Furthermore, many venture capital firms will only seriously evaluate an investment in a start-up company otherwise unknown to them if the company can prove at least some of its claims about the technology and/or market potential for its product or services. To achieve this, or even just to avoid the dilutive effects of receiving funding before such claims are proven, many start-ups seek to self-finance sweat equity until they reach a point where they can credibly approach outside capital providers such as venture capitalists or angel investors. This practice is called "bootstrapping".
The term "entrepreneur" is often conflated with the term "small business" or used interchangeably with this term. While most entrepreneurial ventures start out as a small business, not all small businesses are entrepreneurial in the strict sense of the term. Many small businesses are sole proprietor operations consisting solely of the owner—or they have a small number of employees—and many of these small businesses offer an existing product, process or service and they do not aim at growth. In contrast, entrepreneurial ventures offer an innovative product, process or service and the entrepreneur typically aims to scale up the company by adding employees, seeking international sales and so on, a process which is financed by venture capital and angel investments. In this way, the term "entrepreneur" may be more closely associated with the term "startup". Successful entrepreneurs have the ability to lead a business in a positive direction by proper planning, to adapt to changing environments and understand their own strengths and weakness.