Whether a startup is coming off the ground or has gotten a decent amount of funding to get things going, it’s vital to instill a positive never say die attitude from day one.
Personally, I’ve worked in the startup realm for six years, and I find all the companies that I get to work extremely different, yet have a lot of similarities.
Six years, five companies, a lot of successful projects, a couple of failed ones, all of them with a new lesson learned.
The tech realm is ever growing, and the “bubble” doesn’t appear like it’s going to burst anytime soon; in fact, the demand for tech jobs is still growing … companies are even hiring heavily at coder boot camps (some of which have a 90% graduation rate) or getting kids right out of college.
The fact of the matter is that it’s tough running these small companies, but with the right amount of confidence and a little bit of grit, you can overcome any rough patch. Here are the inevitable truths about working for a tech startup.
Patience & Hustle Go Hand-In-Hand.
Yes, you will have to do a lot of things to get your new product out there. There will be a lot of emphasis on modern-day marketing efforts and content creation to get your product out there. The hustle to get someone to be an early adopter is real.
Having consulted with larger organizations, I can say that if they had to operate under the same circumstances that some of the startups in accelerators go through, they wouldn’t have the mental toughness to do it and keep everyone on board.
The fact of the matter is that a startup is going to go through rough patches, and it’s going to test the mental toughness of every staff member. There’s no easy way out, especially when a small company is at a pre-funding stage.
If you’re currently facing this struggle, just know that the only thing that you can do is keep calm and carry on.
Though rough patches suck, it’s still important to patiently work out of it. There are times when the fate of the company will be challenged, and the leaders will have to decide the future of the business and the employees, but with some good leadership — and a little bit of magic, prevailing is a tad easier.
A great deal of patience and mental toughness is required to excel in the startup world, whether it’s holding the company together, waiting to see if the minimum viable product works out, or only waiting for the results of an investor meeting.
The best thing to do is to relax. The successes or failures of the company won’t define the people that work for the startup, on an individual level.
Good Leadership, All Around The Office.
Speaking of focusing on individuals … having the right leaders in positions of power is a major key to success.
One of the things that I’ve gotten out of working for some of the newer companies is their strong belief towards the Holacracy principles. Giving everyone a say in what’s going on with the company, product, and design; it has helped with my involvement, in some projects.
The leaders that are in a lot of these startup environments are often made not chosen, especially with some of the newer up-and-coming tech startups out there. Consequently, their environment will determine what kind of leader they will be.
Are they going to be the kind of person that says yes to the first investor throwing money at them, in exchange for majority share? Are they going to stand up for employees in rough situations? How will they handle all of the unique circumstances that they’re going to have when getting a business off the ground?
The psychometric buildup of a leader mostly requires them to do what others are scared of doing. They have to be pioneers and ask more out of others. Which to me, is one of the most amiable things an individual can do.
Here’s a quick TedTalk, getting into detail on leadership and getting out of slumps as a leader.
As Roselinde alludes to in the chat, being a leader is something that anyone can do, it’s just a matter of being at the right time, right place, and making sure that any and all acts come from a place of selflessness.
As the legendary Leonard Nimoy said: “The needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few”.
Constant Feedback Loops.
The one thing that leaders must do is listen to the people around them. Whether it’s a small team of 5-10 people, or a mid-sized startup consisting of 20-100 folks, it’s important to make sure that leaders are actively listening and making a conscious effort to create a better company.
When I say company, I don’t just mean the organization itself; I’m talking about the product, the people, the environment. Opening up the communication floodgates creates a sense of community that allows people to feel comfortable with one another.
One of the things that I found strange working at a large, traditional company (bureaucratic), was the fact that criticisms and feedback that’s given to people often has a negative vibe to it. It felt strange listening in on watercooler talks about how management didn’t handle something right, or that they felt like they got berated from a manager.
Perhaps I’ve been in the startup game for too long, but the “growth” mindset that is instilled in startup bootcamps and such, teaches you to see feedback (no matter how harsh it may get) as a good thing.
The constant feedback loops that managers should give to employees, and vice versa, should help grow the business, not hinder any progress that might’ve been made.
Are You Providing Enough Feedback To Employees?
Having continuous feedback loops is good for both managers and employees, whether you’re working at a startup or large company. Find out what employees and managers want by asking and listening.