Adaptability and Growth Within a Startup
Over 3 years ago I took a position within my first startup. The 3-4 months that followed my start date where all about getting use to new platforms, workflow and working entirely remote from the rest of the team (who worked all over the US). I had previously worked in large corporations, non-profit, and a national law firm before starting with the startup. (Hello hybrid professionals.) This move redefined how I would interact within the workforce. I haven’t looked back since!
People often question, what is it like to work in a startup? What skills should I have? Or the often confused look of, but you’re so young, aren’t startups for experienced professionals? Thankfully the latter is likely the case. Startups encompass many different ages and skill sets among other forms of diversity. But, the greatest thing about them, is their unwavering desire to push past the limits of the status quo. Everyday that I work within the startup industry, I know I’m contributing to this paradigm shift to think and create differently. Being apart of a startup has naturally taught me a lot about well.. a lot of things to be general. But, on a deeper level it’s cultivated such personal and professional growth that I’m just not sure I would find otherwise or it wouldn’t of been accelerated growth to say the least.
There are specific traits and skills that, from my experience, are non-negotiable for landing and sustaining a career within the startup industry. This isn’t a comprehensive list by any means, but these are a few I have called on and have watched others call on.
Growth mindset. This is clearly a given, but honestly it’s often an area I have seen people burn out in. It’s hard to always be striving for the next just when you feel that you’ve got your feet under you. And it’s equally hard to show up on days where you’d like to hide under a rock. But, that growth mindset is and will always get you and the company ultimately to better outcomes.
Adaptability. The ability to be creative and disciplined all at once. To funnel ideas and show the steps from ideation to production. To know that lulls in the business might occur, but to be productive during these instead of fearful. Lots of times change happens, and because the business is smaller the effects can be felt directly. These shouldn’t be scary, but a chance to embrace the madness and make something of it. Remember: if it’s truly where you feel you belong, you will adapt and grow with it not against.
Independence and confidence. There is minimal handholding, as it should be. The ability to take vague direction and produce a result is highly sought after. But, it’s more than that, it’s the ability to confidently contribute and own your contribution even if it’s alone. I don’t mean this to be daunting, it’s honestly extremely empowering and energizing for those with these traits. There’s also a level of trust that you know your skill set and can align it with the needs of the company. This is of course the same as any type of company, but is ten-fold in the world of startups.
Drive and ambition. This is what’s called on when you grind to get a project done or to meet a specific outcome. Sometimes working alone or with a team calls for longer or obscure hours than what normal 9-5ers might expect. The “sweat equity” put in is always noticed especially if you work in a smaller team. (Mine is less than 50, for example). But, culling that effort together in a smaller team means the dividends are visible and tangible on the other side almost immediately. You see what direct effect your work has on the business and your consumer base.
Community. The community in which you work of course is important, but building a community of likeminded people is crucial. Especially those from similar and different startup and entrepreneur industries. Just like #denverstartupweek! Bouncing ideas off of one another is always a great way to engaged. Even just having a few people who understand startups environments is a million times helpful to your overall success.
You won’t regret the growth you get from joining a startup or founding one!