Working for a Startup: What You Learn
Working for a startup is the dream for many people. Who wouldn’t want a crack at becoming a part of a team that can (potentially) make billions? You’re an entrepreneur: the rock star of the business world. You learn many things while you hitch the ride. You learn to quickly adapt, learn, and react. Everyday in the office is different. You learn if you want something – really want something – you REALLY need to go after it. In your microcosm, you essentially
complete an on-the-job MBA (well, I don’t have one, but I at least learned from some who do). Oh, and you can also be a part of some cool things, like help launching a brand-new equity crowdfunding.
I worked for a marketing agency in Columbus from the end of December to this week (May 18). I, and the company, came a long way during my stint at the company. I left because I felt the time was right for me to create a venture or two of my own (or, to relaunch my real estate company to start). Here are a few things for you to know working for a startup.
Working for a Startup? You must add value
I wanted to work for a startup. I pitched the idea at my Mastermind, and one thing lead to another, which lead to another. I only wanted an opportunity. I started as an unpaid intern at 29 years old because I wanted that experience in my life. I really had no expectations of where it would go. Although they weren’t sure if I would be a good fit because of my lack of business background, I didn’t cost them a dime. My role for most of my time there was the “utility player”: the you gave a task to and he got it done.
Eventually, I moved up to a paid employed because I added value. If there’s one thing to take away from this article: Add value! Startups don’t have extra money or time to have people who don’t add value. I added value because I could do lots of “little” tasks. I could research them and execute. I carved my way in from being smart and making myself useful.
These Guys are
I get a kick out of people who have a business idea and are afraid to tell people about it (first, that’s called valuation,
which is entrepreneurship 101). Do you have any idea how hard it is to start a business? Do you know how much time, money, and frustration that costs? Do you know how high the divorce rate is amongst entrepreneurs? Unless you tell Google, Apple, or Microsoft – a VERY mobile firm, in other words – your tech idea, no one’s stealing it.
These guys are passionate. They have to be. If you don’t eat, sleep, and breathe your business it probably won’t take off. There are too many things to do, too much hustling, and not enough time in the day to shoehorn a moonlight operation into a 9-5. For better or worse, it’s their lives. I’d get emails from the founders from 6am to 12am — those guys are always on the clock.
The passion and energy is infectious. When the founder is excited, it’s hard to not be excited about the direction of the company as well. For a company in which one little break could completely open the water gates, it’s awesome to feed off that energy potential.
You Have to Wear MANY Hats
Working for a startup means wearing MANY hats. They simply don’t have the resources to have people dedicated to only one task. You have to learn to do many tasks, jobs, and chores — often on the fly. If your project requires you to learn about how to create a Facebook ad, you do that. If you have to learn how to use a godforsaken blog format, you also have to do that. You are forced into being resourceful, which only helps you and the business grow. You don’t get your hand held too often.
You Learn A Little Bit About A Lot in Business
We worked with a lot of product launches. As such, you learn a little bit about a lot in business. Which is totally cool. Working for a startup like that means you get a well-rounded business education, both in terms of industries and aspects of the business world. You’re not stuck in one department in a big, corporate-y office; instead you’re working, sometimes in one room, with everyone handling many different tasks. There is little time to be wasted. The ability to catch on quickly – especially as someone with little business background like myself – is paramount.
You Do Cool Stuff, like Equity Crowdfunding
Well, one aspect of helping launch companies involves cool stuff, like equity crowdfunding. Getting funding is probably the sexiest thing a startup can do, and equity crowdfunding is one of the sexiest things in the business. Recently (as in THIS week), we (or they, I suppose now) launched a Title III equity crowdfunding campaign. Although I’m not longer with the startup, I can’t wait to see the result of the campaign. Working for a startup can be frustrating at times, and rewarding at times. Being a part of something cool is one of those rewarding times.
You Work with Everyone
In a one-room office, you obviously work next to everyone. I’m pretty sure that’s the definition of synergy. Although everyone has a value to bring, it’s neat working with founders, who often have very prestigious and interesting backgrounds. You don’t have many levels from you to the CEO; often, the CEO is only steps away, working side-by-side with you to achieve your tasks.
Stuff Changes Quickly, with Minimal Bureaucracy
Working for a startup means stuff often changes on the fly — you have to act and learn quickly. At the same time, you have a lot of power and have the “green light” more often than you would at a traditional 9-5. It’s awesome for moving quickly because you can just act. That comes with a lot of responsibility, but you will enjoy swift approval instead of getting stuck in the cog.
Because things move quickly, it can also get confusing of what’s going on. It can be hard to always keep everyone in the loop, and what needs to get done can be confusing. It’s six-of-one, half-a-dozen of another. Keeping an eye on what everyone is doing helps during times of all-hands-on-deck.
You Don’t Always Know What Works
The most frustrating thing for me was you don’t know why something does or doesn’t work. Does something not work because you don’t market the correct audience? It’s not the right time for the product? Or we using the wrong methods of marketing? I often found more questions than answers. Sometimes getting customers can be as simple being at the right place at the right time.
Speaking with other people in similar shoes, you love when something works. But you also want to know why it does. I imagine that’s like the scientist who discovered something, but has no idea how he or she did it to do again. It’s an irony of working for a startup: when something works, you don’t always know why.
YOU Will Want to Start a Business
You’ve probably heard of the Law of Attraction and you’re the average of your friends, right? Well, by working for a startup you will probably want to create a business as well. Ideas and brainstorming are regular occurrences, and you’re already in the right community. It’s very easy to get warped into wanting to collaborate and create startups as well. You have the skills, network, and confidence, so why not?
I loved my time working in the startup community. Working for a startup was definitely a life goal of mine and I at least achieved that bit. I ultimately left because I wanted to go on my own, to pursue my own dreams and goals. I had an awesome experience and one that I will continue to carry with me for a very long time.