Well, at job interviews, especially startup job interviews, we all try and answer that one quintessential question – why I want to be here? – quite convincingly.
And, a few days into the job, we often really forget why we actually ever wanted to be there. We get into the routine of startup life, pressures, deadlines and some great beer parties. And if you had worked in any other organisation instead of a startup, it may be that you would have done the same thing. Well, almost the same thing.
But that definitely shouldn’t be the case, for you are there for a number of reasons.
Many of us join startups because we get to work on an idea which we are passionate about and see how that idea is set to impact the world. But then, not always does this passion translate into making things happen. While a startup guarantees you a chance to work up close on ideas that have the potential to be the next big thing, not always do we put our strengths to work and enable the startup to push boundaries.
Test the waters
The reason why many of us are here, at startups, is not only because we are allowed to dress according to what best suits our personality or are offered flexibility when it comes to work timings, but because it is a great chance to test our skills, innovate and grow. Our work is not defined by our degree certificate, but by our interests and abilities. An engineer in marketing. A communications professional in sales. A finance guy in design. All of this is a workplace reality.
Also, because of the small workforce, a startup is probably the only place where you have the opportunity to experiment, explore, fail, learn and adapt quickly into different job roles and have an impressive well-rounded work experience. In a startup, you get to be a part of projects very early in your career, which you might not get in larger corporates.
But then, sometimes we take all this flexibility for granted. We fail to appreciate the great opportunity that’s sitting right in front of us.
Get recognised for success (and failure)
In a startup, irrespective of the hierarchy, you get to experiment and get feedback on your projects much faster, sometimes almost immediately, because it often has a direct correlation with the company’s performance. So if you do something incredible, something that wows people, you get to take the credit. It gives you a chance to own up, be appreciated, feel valued, and bask in your success. But it also comes with the risk of failure and thereby the need to own up to them as well. And, most of the time the risk of failure outweighs the thrill of success and thus many of us get pigeonholed.
Take on responsibility that goes beyond your fancy business card
The next reason is really cool designations. One can be a CEO, a Vice President or a Director of Marketing at an age that would have been unthinkable for earlier generations. While it is true that sometimes talent supersedes experience, we sometimes forget that these designations carry responsibility with them.
The fifth big reason. Sometimes with the fancy designations, come ego and arrogance. While that to a certain level is positive since it gives you confidence in yourself and your ideas, empowering you to ignore the naysayers, sometimes it can be disastrous leading to people issues. It is important to remember that you are not the only one putting your heart and soul into the job or the only one with great ideas. You are here to work together on something that everyone in the team believes in and take that idea foward. The key strength of a startup is its people, their ideas, and any crack there can prove detrimental to the efficiency of the organisation. Only when you continue to work as one, of course with healthy debate and discussion, only then can you truly move the wheels of the organisation forward, especially in a small startup.
In a startup, apart from getting to do interesting and challenging work, you get to meet, interact and learn from the disrupters themselves. You get unrivalled business training and life lessons that will help you grow steadfast. Whether it’s about the effort involved in bringing a product into existence, learning to be frugal or dealing with challenges, you will get a valuable education through your experiences at a startup.
And the list can continue with many more. But, let’s cut it short, because the important thing is to avoid the pitfalls and taking startup life for granted, by asking ourselves this one question every day, every morning – Why am I here?
That’s when you can progress professionally, and you take the organisation forward with you.