Startups are getting a lot of attention these days. From HBO to CNBC, shows like Silicon Valley and Shark Tank are peaking everyone’s interest. There’s a lot of big ideas (and big money) being thrown around, and it’s easy to want a piece of the action. But take away the funny antics and dramatized production, and you might want to think carefully about whether working for a startup is the right environment for you. Startups can be incredibly rewarding and great learning experiences. They can also be totally disorganized and unpredictable. Are you ready? Here’s a few things to consider.
There’s a lot to get done, and not enough people, process, or training to go around. Working in a startup often feels like being a kid again. Your dad is going to throw you in the deep end, and you better figure out how to tread water, quick. For many this ‘jump first, figure it out later’ mentality is exciting, challenging, and inspiring. For others, it can be overwhelming. As long as you can keep a cool head while you’re navigating new territory, you have the opportunity to learn more at a quicker pace than you ever have before. But beware, feeling like you’re constantly adapting to a new learning curve isn’t for everyone.
You’ll make a difference.
The processes and protocols you’re probably used to don’t exist in the startup world. You’ll often wonder what kind of glue is holding the place together because it looks like everyone is running completely different styles of companies. The good news? You can make your own processes and scale them across the company along the way. From the new intern all the way up to the CEO, if you see something that can help the business, and you’re willing to put in the work, time, and follow through to implement your idea, you can make a real difference in how the business functions. One caveat: startups are constantly iterating, so what works today might not work tomorrow. You could spend a lot of time creating a new process, and tomorrow someone could come in and replace it with something better. If you are good at creating order out of chaos and adapting to an ever changing landscape, you’ll have the chance to make signifigant changes.
You’re going to learn to be tough.
You need to develop tough skin to work in a startup. When you come up with a new idea, no one is going to hold your hand or pat you on the head and tell you you’re doing a great job. They’re going to have questions, LOTS of questions, and you can’t take it personally if not everyone likes what you’re proposing. Push through the good ideas, learn to let go of the bad ones, and don’t let what others say discourage you. Everyone who’s there is facing the same cut throat environment, and that’s not a bad thing. The best ideas survive, the criticism will help you come up with better versions of what you want, and you’ll get very good at thinking every detail of your ideas through from conception to completion.
No two days are the same at a startup, but if you’re ready to work hard, make a difference, and be accountable for your actions, you’ll fast track your personal growth, contribute immensely to something you can be proud of, and enjoy a pretty wild ride.