Am I startup material?

Working for a startup may be a rude awakening if you’ve spent your career working at well-established companies.


21 Jul, 2017

Am I startup material? | BEAMSTART News

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When you’re looking for a new job, it’s essential to pare down exactly what you’re looking for. Similar to the college application process, you’ll probably need to do some soul searching before refining your list. You could admire a company that’s disrupting an industry, and at the same time, not be a good fit for working there.

Startups are known to have unicorn success stories. We’ve all heard about companies going from working in a garage to billion dollar valuations. Startups are also known for their colorful company cultures and interesting benefits (see my take on some over the top benefits here). But what does it really mean to work for a startup?

Brace yourself…

Working for a startup may be a rude awakening if you’ve spent your career working at well-established companies. There may not be a fully developed onboarding process.

Don’t expect the stack of procedures and processes you may have received on your first day at a big company. Same goes for marketing materials – a startup may be developing their portfolio of collateral, but something that you want may not be available yet.

Keep your expectations in check for expenses too, as these will most likely be a longer discussion at a more frugal company.

Opportunity abounds

So what do you do with limited resources and few established procedures? You get creative!

If you see an opportunity at a startup, take it. Work with the marketing team to create a document that will help your business development. Meet with the customer service team to hear their current processes so you can help refine your sales pitch. Promotions that could take years at a larger company could happen much more quickly at a startup.

Startup founders across the board look for people that want to disrupt existing structures and combat procedural slowness. If you prove yourself to be a valuable team player, the room for growth is essentially endless at a startup.

Know yourself

Are you willing to get a job done, no matter what it takes, even if it’s not in your job description? That’s called being scrappy.

Having high self-awareness before applying to a startup will greatly aid in your transition. You’ll need to automatically step up to lend a hand and take care of things without being reminded.

Your communication skills have to be well developed. You may be reporting directly to an executive, or to a founder with a highly technical background. No matter who you’re reporting to at a startup, you should be able to self-manage and communicate key takeaways quickly.

The startup world moves fast. If you are excited about an abundance of opportunities and rapid growth then you should thrive.

If you’re still not sure if you are cut out to work at a startup, there’s more you can do. Ask if you can do an informational interview to see what an office is like and to get a sense of day-to-day work there. Scan your LinkedIn network to see if you know someone that works at a startup and ask if you can take them out for coffee.

Making informed decisions is crucial when moving companies, so do what you can to feel comfortable before getting into the interview process.  

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