They say in business you should think big. But when it comes to your career, have you considered thinking “small”? In my experience, a startup is a roller-coaster ride that can offer you incredible career experiences and teach you some invaluable life lessons.
Editor’s note: Adam Arbolino is co-founder and CTO of DesignCrowd.com, a logo, web and graphic design marketplace.
Startups can make you more efficient than you’ve ever been, and they can help you expand your responsibility and knowledge and learn how any business, despite challenges, can effectively get off the ground.
The feeling you get when you work for a startup is rather hard to describe. In some respects, it’s a little like taking the red pill and getting ejected from the Matrix. Everything you do in a startup makes a difference. No longer are you surrounded by a safety blanket world where you’re a small cog in a large machine. In a startup, everything you do will contribute to the ultimate success or failure of the business.
In my experience, leaving a large organization and heading to a startup felt liberating. In the early days, it felt like every piece of code I wrote was making a difference. In fact, startups actually push you to identify and focus on what’s absolutely critical, forcing you to think more creatively about how you approach projects and create value. And best of all, you’ll often get to see results first-hand and share in the rewards and glory.
I unequivocally say I learned more in my first two months in a startup than I did in the previous five years of my professional career. The reason for this is that everyone in a startup is expected to wear multiple hats. A startup forces you to adopt new skills and responsibilities to make up for the small-sized taking on the huge challenges of building an empire.
In startups, fast learning can also lead to increased responsibility and multiple opportunities to both utilize and accelerate talents and knowledge. All of this can translate into powerful position in the business world and means you’ll have much more to offer as an individual, particularly when it comes time to move on or even start your own business.
One of the areas that I’m most proud of at DesignCrowd is that we have built a culture where talented people come together and make work fun (work doesn’t feel like work). There’s nothing more rewarding than feeling excited to come into the office in the morning to tackle the next challenge the world has thrown at us.
You will also find that in startups, you get to shape the culture around you. Entering a larger organization usually means that you’ll be stepping into a predetermined culture, set with existing practices, customs and values. Joining a startup, on the other hand, often means that you can directly contribute to the creation and growth of the business culture, offering ideas and practices that can help shape the working philosophy of the company.
One of the most rewarding things about startups is that you can find yourself working with a team that is highly passionate and enthusiastic. This can spark inspiration on every level, leading to truly innovative ideas and developments that can help the business stand out against competitors in the greater industry.
Being part of an entrepreneurial team is also a wonderful way to learn how to innovate. Entrepreneurs are great people to learn from — they identify a problem and need to find a new efficient way to solve it.
Joining a startup gives you the opportunity to start learning what it takes to be your own boss. While they take personal and financial sacrifice, startups pay you back in opportunities and knowledge on how to take charge of your own venture.
If you’re toying with the idea of one day being your own boss, working in a startup is the ideal place to educate yourself on how to set goals, execute strategies, take your product to market and implement strong business operations. You can also be required to take on other, more administrative business tasks, which can actually equip you with great business know-how.
“You learn that there are lots of details in any enterprise,” says CEO Richard A. Moran. “You might have to name the company, design a logo, find office space, figure out the legal entity, find an insurance carrier and all the thousands of mundane activities that one takes for granted in a larger company.”
The key startup lesson in all of this is to never underestimate the power of working for a startup organisation. Startups can equip you with invaluable hands-on tools and experience, growing your skills, knowledge and even responsibilities rapidly – and that’s something that’s difficult to come by in a medium or larger-sized organization.