We've all heard about how difficult, fun and challenging it can be to work at a startup. In fact, being a part of a small team who's trying to change the way things are is a great adventure that requires lots of engagement and passion.
My name is Fred, and I've been a member of a startup team for almost two years now. There are many things that I've learned here that couldn't have picked up elsewhere, not only in terms of professional experiences, but also about myself.
The first thing you need to know about working in a startup is that you need to be a passionate person. Not only because it requires hard work, but also because you'll quickly feel overwhelmed and you'll loose your foothold if you're not passionate about what you're doing.
To help understand what it means to be part of a startup, here are the top 10 things that I've learned from working at Azendoo.
You need to overstep your comfort zone every single day. In fact, if you only do things that you're comfortable with, chances are you're not pushing yourself hard enough. You can always do more! Besides, making mistakes is okay (well not if you're losing your company a lot of money, but…). You'll learn a lot from your mistakes, and you'll do it different the next time. Working in a startup means pushing yourself a little bit more to try new things even if you're not sure about the outcome.
The main advantage of working in a small team is that everyone is there to help. It's a little like those old action movies, we never leave a man behind! Besides, asking for help is NOT a sign of weakness. So hold back your pride, and don't hesitate to ask for help or to ask questions. The information you'll get will never be useless. In return, don't be judgmental when people ask for your help.
Before working in a startup I was very hard on myself about my failures, because I've been raised not to fail. Now, I understand that failure is okay, and it's not necessarily a sign of weakness. Failure only means that you've tried, not that you're bad at what you're doing. Failing the first time will give you that much more strength for the next round. Plus, accepting failure will help you become a stronger person and team member.
You're involved with a small team of high profile people so don't be fooled, there's going to be some challenges! It's not a competition within the team but more like a race towards creativity and innovation, and the race should be run like a marathon, not a sprint. Everyday, you'll be faced with new challenges, and sometimes you'll be the one challenging others. So be ready to adapt and to overcome.
Always ask your teammates if you can help them in anyway. You might find new opportunities to develop your own role. Besides, understanding the different roles within your company helps you make quicker and better decisions. But don't be mistaken, it's not about multi-tasking… it's about curiosity and self betterment.
Whether it's about new skills, yourself, your limits, relationships or anything else, don't ever stop learning. If at some point you stop learning, you should rethink what are you doing and why. Not learning is not evolving, and not evolving is not good for your happiness.
The best thing you can do for a startup is be yourself. Working for big corporations often requires you to be someone that your co-workers want you to be, and changing personalities means that you're never 100% efficient. A startup is the sum of different personalities, and those personalities are the ones that are building something together. Just be yourself and don't ever be afraid to express your point of view.
This one goes hand in hand with the previous rule. You're a member of the team, so your ideas count and should be heard. Even if you think they're not THE idea everyone's been looking for, share them with your team. Your idea might even lead to something totally different but super cool.
Working in a startup will take up all of your daily free time, and even some weekend hours. When you're in the shower, you'll think about cool new stuff you can put in place to make your product better. Constantly thinking about work isn't a problem as long as you're doing great things outside of your work. You need to find a balance between your work and your personal life. Personally, I have never participated in as many extracurricular activities outside of the office as I do since I started working at Azendoo.
Time is ticking fast, and by working in a startup, it's ticking even faster. So don't forget to enjoy every moment of your day and your week. Go do great things and enjoy doing it because life is to short to stress. So laugh, smile, jump, play, create and evolve… every day!