Working at a start-up is fun. Working at a start-up gets us free lunches and happy hours. Working at a start-up is about work-from-home Fridays and unlimited vacation days. Working at a start-up means working for yourself. Working at a start-up translates into autonomy with no boss breathing down your neck. Most of the above or all of the above could be true, depending which company you’re looking at. What’s interesting is that a lot more goes into the start-up life than people imagine. There are still key essentials for the startup-up life and how to grind through it.
I’ve spent a considerable part of my career at firms completely opposite to their large corporate counterparts, and have come across a few traits that can be very helpful in surviving life at a start-up. These traits can be inherent to an individual or picked up on-the-job; either way, these are the few personality must-haves for anyone looking to get into the early stage community.
Working at a start-up, especially an early stage start-up, entails a certain amount of risk that a lot of people are unable to deal with. Life at a start-up is all about living life on the edge, make it or break it, there is a lot of uncertainty all around – can you deal with it?
Are you the type of person who gets things done? No matter what the odds, can you close that client and bring the sale home? Joining a start-up is all about the hustle, thinking on the move and the ability to take charge. Taking initiative makes you stand out in a crowd and definitely set yourself up for success.
I’ve seen a start-up change their entire product close to three times in seven months. I’ve seen CEOs play SDRs and I’ve seen SDRs play CEO. The ability to pivot and be agile in your way of thinking and functioning is paramount. Incorporating fluidity into your entire process will serve you well, empowering you the deal with any situation thrown your way.
The going isn’t easy at a start-up, it gets tough. Repetitive sales calls and client meeting with similar RFPs – be prepared for long hours and many-a-day spent at the office. Everyone is out there looking for that one break and no one is going to quit until that happens.
It’s important to remember that minimalism is the theme of the day. Bootstrapped start-ups need to be pump as much money back into their business as they can; corporate credit cards and business class tickets are out of the window. Secondly, less is more. Minimalistic products and services simplify how customers understand your business so it’s essential not to complicate things. Translating that into your professional life is a huge bonus to one’s professional life.
You will have setbacks. Your team will have setbacks. Your company will face setbacks. Never let them get you down. It’s all about picking up and moving on, finding the better alternative that you may not have thought of yet.
Smaller companies have minimal hierarchy giving everyone an opportunity to contribute. No closed door meetings here. Everyone has an opinion and it shall be heard. Being open also a great trait to have as it provides massive value at networking events. Hear, and be heard – just like live and let live.
Keep in mind, you could be at a start-up very different from where I’ve been at, but the above still remains as a baseline of what one needs to be start-up. Its a close quarters