10 things I learned working at a startup
As a college student and aspiring entrepreneur, I have been infatuated with the startup segment ever since I was introduced to the concept. Since then, I have had the chance to discover some of the best startups across Delhi, interact with their founders and also hire interns for the startup that I worked with. In the process, I learned more than I could possibly imagine, and part of the reason why I can justify myself writing this article is credited to the fact that I am constantly looking for new entrepreneurial ideas, learning new techniques in order to improve existing, orthodox methods for marketing and business development. All of which I owe to my experience with startups.
There have been numerous articles discussing the experience of students, investors, entrepreneurs with startups. In my limited capacity and knowledge, here are the 10 important lessons I learned working at a startup:
- Startups provide excellent exposure: As a college student exploring a completely unknown field of entrepreneurship, exposure mattered more to me than anything. Working at my current startup, I had the opportunity to interact and work directly with the founders, something I probably would not have been able to say for a corporate (which is not to say corporates are bad at providing exposure, but direct interaction is very limited). I handled real time challenges under their guidance, provided my own ideas and learnt a lot over a short period of time.
- Startups allow you to discover your interests: If you’re a regular, normal human, you have been through a phase where you were very unsure about what your interests were. This problem multiplies while looking for internships and work experience since you do not know what you want to do. Startups allow you to try a little bit of everything, take your time and discover where your interest and talents lie. And even then, you’re allowed to radically change direction and try out something new.
- Startups are approachable: Most startups are very open to interacting with students and are approachable through multiple channels. I use two channels: Angel.co and LinkedIn. Then, I simply use my e-mail to get in touch with the team and openly discuss my problem. I have received responses to most e-mail that I sent out which adequately answered my questions or helped me through my grievances almost immediately.
- Startups are accepting: Startups are a lot more accepting of relatively inexperienced applicants. Though everyone uses their own screening processes, most startups try to introduce you to work instead of rejecting you outright. Even if you have had very little work experience, startups might still pick you to work with them, guide you and help you based on your zeal to work. Which brings us to the next lesson.
- Startups develop a culture of hard work: Startups, more than anything, look for your zeal to work and put in effort. In fact, the startup segment requires devotion and commitment more than most people realize. It is impossible to learn or grow (or even enjoy) at a startup if you cannot devote your time to it. Once you gradually start increasing the time you spend with the startup, you automatically find yourself increasing your workload, increasing productivity and bringing new ideas to the table.
- Startups allow you to increase your workload at your own pace: An interesting culture among startups is that they allow you to take up as much work as you want. Work is not “delegated.” Instead, you can take your time to explore your interests, start working in the field and increase your workload at your own comfortable pace.
- Your opinion matters in a startup: Given the small team sizes that most startups work with, your opinions and ideas are heard in a startup. It may sound absolutely ridiculous; it may even be completely impractical for a list of reasons. However, at the end of the day you know your mistakes and learn from them. And who knows, something that may sound bizarre to you might actually give birth to a good idea after discussion and some brainstorming.
- Startups develop a positive thought process: Startups develop optimistic thought processes, which are not only success mantras, but are also important life hacks. They promote a method of thinking, which is based around the idea that it is better to have tried and failed than to not have tried at all. A startup helpsdevelop an individual’s capability to keep a clear head through various challenges, building patience and perseverance.
- Startups are dynamic: Work at a startup is never monotonous (unless you choose it to be that way). By the inherent nature of the work and the atmosphere of startups, work tends to be extremely dynamic. Dynamic work does not necessarily mean work related to diagonally opposite fields; it simply means that you are constantly thinking of, accepting (and rejecting) and applying new ideas for growth. It keeps your work interesting and keeps you and your thoughts engaged.
- Work hard, party harder: On a lighter note, startups are a lot more relaxed in most matters than big companies. The atmosphere supports learning, personal dynamic growth and hard work along with fun and socializing. This results in interaction with your co-workers (who may even be the founders) which extends to a deeper, personal level. And of course, there are all the parties.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)