We live in the era of the “startup.”
Thanks to the Silicon Valley and the rise of the technology-driven economy, just about everyone aspires to find their golden ticket working in a startup.
Even though my startup experience is new, in just a few months I’ve learned plenty about what it takes for a smart professional to succeed in the unstructured, fast-paced world of the ambiguous, non-corporate environment. It’s exciting, confusing, exhilarating and even sometimes unsettling forging a path no one has walked before.
With that in mind, here are the three things to consider if you’re going to go the startup route in your career:
- You must embrace – and learn to love – ambiguity. For those of us steeped in the numbing madness that is corporate structure, startups aren’t diseased with this yet. Ambiguity rules the day and you have to deal with that. There’s less structure and less process. When you find there is no “way we do it,” you have to figure out a way to do it anyway. That means when you turn a corner and there’s nothing, you have to create it and forge a new way. No one is going to tell you how to do it or what to do. You have to figure it out yourself. That’s liberating but also can be a trap if you’re used to just doing what you’re told.
- It’s a grind. If you think you worked hard climbing the corporate ladder, this is a new level of work, time and dedication. It’s long hours, unknown schedules and getting your hands dirty – constantly. Despite that, it’s worth it. You’re building something and building something is always more satisfying than just fine-tuning an already oiled machine. That said, you have to be mentally prepared and confident enough to trust that you’ll fail and succeed – often in the same day or even same hour.
- Individualism is not welcome. We all want to succeed as individual professionals but in the startup culture, collaboration and teamwork rule the day. It’s a collective environment and for the venture to make it, you have to rely and help others all of the time. It doesn’t matter if you’re a “rock star” on your own or in your past, to win the day you must give up a selfish attitude and work with others to make it. A successful individual performer quickly finds themself on the street if their focus is on personal gain vs. winning as a team. You truly sink or swim helping each other.
If you’re looking to go the startup route, consider these three points before making the jump. The startup experience isn’t for everyone – depending on where you are in your career. At the same time, there’s nothing more rewarding then building something and sharing that with a group of bright, talented individuals willing to do what it take together to make the business a success.