Speaking about working in a startup, there are always a lot of critics. What do you like most about working in a startup environment? I think for me it is the promise of growth and the broad vision one gets of a complete company. When my corporate friends wonder what I am doing working at 1 in the morning or checking my emails on New Years’ Eve, I like to tell them three things:
1. Culture & Friendship
Most small organisations start off as a group of people with the same goals, values and one vision (and struggle to maintain this when growing). Together through rituals, communication, behaviour and a lot of times even appearances they create a company culture. In some startups it means you wear whatever you want, you play ping pong, have late night work sessions to bond, work from home on certain days or go out to lunch every Friday. Every group will develop its own unique culture, but what’s fundamental is that you work alongside people who are working towards the same goal. You share the same drive and excitement and your peers as just as passionate as you.
2. Sense of ownership & Responsibility
Working along your own rules means that you will soon develop ownership – your baby – and a great sense of responsibility. You will want to do your work well (and you will take pride in it) because you understand the consequences – both positive and negative. In a small team everybody plays an integral role in the product creation and this is an empowering feeling! You really do matter and can change something.
3. One person & 100 roles
As the company grows you will grow alongside (if all goes well, that is). You might have started as an accountant but seeing the whole processes and picture you will be able / and sometimes you will have to, learn new things and maybe even discover new talents. Your job won’t be monotonous but you can shape it the way you want and play the roles you wish to play instead of having to wait for a promotion. For me the greatest thing is this flexibility and this ability to always be learning! We are so young, we will get infinite occasions to define ourselves and our work.
For me these three things overweigh and make me happy working in a growing, perpetually changing environment. Of course, there are downsides but I guess everybody has a scale to measure them up against one another. In an article by Stewart Masters I read a great phrase: “Working in a startup environment teaches you to push the envelope, be creative and unearth skills and qualities you never knew you had. Your ability for critical thinking and environmental awareness will expand exponentially as you are constantly sizing things up and figuring out ways to improve the world as we experience it today.” As he writes about the reasons to work for a startup, he also kindly mentions the downsides such as a generally low salary, big workloads of ‘bitchwork’ and constant instability.
It’s your life. It’s your choice!