At least once in your lifetime. Be that big fish in a small pond.
Just like any other young adult fresh out of college, I was apprehensive about working with a startup. More so, because my field (Journalism) demanded (five years ago) that I work with a known brand to build a fruitful career in future. Today, I’m glad I dumped that idea, because what I learnt from a three-year stint at a startup might be incomparable to what I would have otherwise learnt as a thousand and oneth employee in a fast-paced multinational firm.
You Experience Ownership in the Real Sense
Ownership not just in terms of fulfilling what your mandate is, but ownership in terms of going out of the way to ensure that you give it your best shot. Essentially, treating your task like your own baby. Remember that you’re working in a small team. Hence, every move you make, every communication you send out of the company and every idea you suggest is going to make a huge difference to the growth of the business. While it may seem like a double-edged sword, it teaches you to be patient during challenging times, it teaches you to step back and analyse the situation when you are faced with a crisis, and it pushes you to think beyond what’s already done and innovate, no matter how big or small. Most importantly, when you survive that tide, you take the credit for having created or tackled something yourself.
You Learn Discipline
Often, most startups (with small teams) do not have numerous policies in place to monitor your everyday work in progress. Neither do they have dress code in place. However, before you do that little jig by the table, here’s the underlying reason. As an employee, you are expected to take responsibility of your tasks and ensure that you meet deadlines (read: you set for yourself). Like I mentioned earlier, every single action you take within the company, for the company, is going to have an impact on its overall growth. Hence, naturally, you will push yourself to set your own rules and abide by it, instead of a management keeping track of your moves.
You Become the Jack of Many Trades
Often, you would be doing multiple other tasks than what you have signed up for on paper. Why? Because a startup, naturally, has to scale. When it does, it brings in newer verticals, newer tasks and newer responsibilities, which demand that you learn and understand (sometimes from scratch) how they function. Let me give you an example. On paper, you might be a journalist with a mandate to deliver four articles a month. But, when your startup decides to organise its first ever business conference, you are bound to bear a portion of the responsibility to bring that idea to life. The best part? In the process, the learning that comes through is tremendous.
You are Witness to an Open Door Policy
Meaning, you are most welcome to come up with any number of ideas to improve the way a certain thing is done, or implement something new in the business. You feel the design or layout can be made better? Give us ideas. You feel we can source a column that will offer a fresh perspective on a burning issue? Tell us how. You want to work on a story you think will hit jackpot with readers? Show us how. There are no mail approvals. There is no waiting period. Walk in, have a chat with your mentor and drop or implemented that idea at your pace.
The beauty is, the more you think, the more you suggest, the more your ideas are refined and tuned to where the business is going.
Working in a startup is as close as you can get to experiencing the life of an entrepreneur. There are days when you feel like you are the one who has to score a winning six in the last ball, and there are days when you feel like you own the world. But, that’s what a startup is all about. It’s like a pendulum, which at the end of the day does achieve what it set out to do. For all you know, what you learnt at a startup may leave you well-prepared when you choose to turn an entrepreneur yourself. ∎
(This article is jointly published on Medium.)