🕙 4 min read
Going from one from the biggest integrated agency partnerships, whose London office alone was over 700 people, to a 4 desk startup in a shared working space above a restaurant was a big change. It has been 9 months since I abandoned the mirage of the big shiny creative agency and jumped into a 10 person team at Vidsy. That 10 person team is now a 16 person team and we’ve moved location too.
I preach about following your passion or at least taking steps towards it and the more you know the better decisions you can make. I could literally write 15 of these, but that’s long as fuck for you guys to read. So here are 6 key things you need to know before you join a startup.
#1 You are setting the rules
I realised pretty quickly, there is no blueprint to success. You will change the way you work as often as you need to. If something is too slow, you change it. If a process causes errors, you change it. You have no guide to follow, so you must learn to be a problem solver to succeed. If you feel trapped by people saying “Yeah it’s annoying, but that’s the way we do it” then a startup may appeal to your throw-out-the-rule-book mentality.
#2 There is less room for error
One of the things that fueled my nonchalant not giving a fuck in big agencies was that, in reality, if I majorly fucked up a client meeting, nothing would reaaaalllly change. That is not the case in a start up. Errors matter. Each meeting matters because ultimately when you’re growing, every £ matters. It can be a lot of pressure but within months, for the first time, I really wanted to be doing EVERYTHING properly and to the best that I can. If you like blending into the wallpaper and getting away with suboptimal work, a startup is not for you.
#3 You have to like and trust your colleagues
Is it always nice to like your colleagues right? It makes the days go faster. This is amplified 10 fold in a startup. You work in small teams, with big workloads so trust becomes so important. You need to be able to solve issues without your team thinking you’re a dick. I have always liked my colleagues, but I have learned a new level of respect in the past 9 months because I’m in a team which deserves respect.
#4 It will become your life
I am a massive advocate of a good work/life balance but for the past maybe, 3 months, I’ve realised I’m getting a little addicted. The more you care, the more you want to put in. When you actually want to check your emails at 9 at night, to me it’s a good sign. Many people may not agree though, so be aware when you choose to work somewhere which needs you, you may end up giving more time than you expected.
#5 Your role is bigger than your role
As a team is growing you have to become a task octopus (that’s such a lame metaphor, I’m sorry). You may have signed up for job A, but you will likely learn to do a bit of job B and C too. You probably also need to know a bit about job D to incase that person takes a holiday. No need to be a pro at everything but you need a basic understanding of a lot.
#6 It’s ridiculously exciting
Because things start small, changes are exciting. Getting a new team member or a new client or a new partner is really cool. You feel like you’ve achieved something as a company. You may also find the business plan shifts and changes. There may be new revenue streams you hadn’t imagined. Or that what works for clients shifts somewhat. This ever-changing, unpredictable nature is what makes startup culture intriguing.
All startups are different, grow at different rates and have different structures BUT from reading around and talking to others, I think most of these ring true across the board. If you want to be truly challenged and see a real impact from your work. Join a startup. Feel free to share your own learnings in the comments, I would love to hear them 👇 Or if you’re still working out WTF you’re looking for in a job, check out my top tactic for finding a job you love.