When you’re a first-timer, it’s easy to get disillusioned. After all, the startup world is presented as a utopia by the media. In reality, that’s not always the case. Some startups have ineffective leaders, while others are headed nowhere.
Don’t just work in any startup because it’s in the industry that you love. Be extremely picky. Your startup job should be worth it. After all, you deserve to spend 40 hours or more at the right place. However, what kind of startup should you strive for? How do you know you are in the right place?
Here are four signs you are working for the right startup for you:
1. Great leadership
The parting words my first boss told me were, “don’t pick a job, pick a boss.” When I applied to startup world, I changed it up a bit. Now I say, “don’t pick a startup, pick a Founder/CEO.”
When you hear the word startup, you’ll probably imagine Airbnb, Uber, WhatsApp, Amazon and the success stories that come with them. In reality, not all startups succeed. Results from the Startup Genome Report Extra on Premature Scaling found that within 3 years, 92% of startups failed. That’s basically a 9/10 chance that you won’t be keeping your job in the next three years.
One sure way to avoid this is to know your startup is being led by the right kind of CEO/Founder. What I recommend is to check LinkedIn to learn the credentials of your boss. What’s his experience? Did he work for another company or startup in your industry? You can even research on press releases and interviews with your startup’s CEO/Founder. What’s his vision for the startup? What is he doing to reach his vision? You’ll know you are with the right leader, when he has logical plans on how to make the impossible possible.
If you are in doubt about the startup you are working for, then observe your boss. Does he listen to the suggestions of his colleagues? Is he evaluating every success/failure of your startup? Is your team consistently motivated to contribute their ideas in his meetings? You know you’ve hit the jackpot, when you have a founder or CEO who listens and acts.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams
2. Collaborative environment
A little competition is a good thing, but too much may be harmful for you in the long run. After all, it’s a lot more fulfilling to work together to solve problems, compared to blaming or outdoing each other. Just imagine if you are working with colleagues who are hell-bent on outshining each other.
You’ll focus a lot more on how you are doing, compared to how your startup is progressing. So, you know you are in the right startup when there’s a fun and collaborative environment. When you are in doubt, you can observe your own team. Let’s say you are in a meeting. Your team is looking for ways to market your startup.
Is everyone contributing their ideas and listening to the ideas of others? Are your co-workers evaluating your suggestions? You can rest assured when there are intelligent and insightful conversations.
3. Flexibility and freedom
In corporate jobs, you’ll have to go by the 9 to 5 rule. No absences allowed. This means that if you have a family emergency or if you need a break, you can’t just leave. Other times you are forced to do overtime. It can get very frustrating once your schedule revolves around your job. Fortunately, in the right startup this is never an issue.
It’s not such a big deal if you are not in the office. It’s also not a big deal if you are not working 8 hours straight. As long as you’ve finished your assigned tasks, your colleagues will cut you some slack. That’s because the right startups understand that a bit of time and freedom can raise your productivity.
4. Growth opportunities
At the right startup, you are not tied to a strict job description. Either your boss might make you write your own job description, or you might have the initiative to try something new. Who knows? A startup environment is often so fast-paced that in the right startup, you are forced to learn new skills.
Sure, it’s a lot more comfortable to do the tasks that you are actually good at and have no chance in screwing up. However, it’s a lot more fulfilling to keep learning on the job. Not only is it challenging, but you also gain experiences that can enhance your CV. Let’s say you are marketer who’s a complete newbie in graphic design.
I know it’s difficult when you are asked to design promotional materials. You’ll probably screw up the first few times. If you are working in a big corporation, then an artist will most likely takeover. In the right startup, you’ll be encouraged to keep designing as long as you have the initiative.
“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning” – Benjamin Franklin
In fact, in successful startups everyone’s busy learning the latest trends and updating their skills. To catch up, you’ll have to take tons of opportunities or you might have to create them on your own. Therefore, the next time your colleagues encourage you to learn or apply your knowledge on future trends, you know your job is worth it.
The startup world is pretty unstable, so you need the right signs to assure you that you are working for the right one. Is your startup job helping you grow? Or is it pulling you down with it? Hopefully, these signs will let you know.