What I learned in my first months at a (tech) start-up

Julia van der Lingen

It has been almost four months since I switched from an established IT company to a tech start-up. So far, the experience has been nothing short of great. However, working at a young company comes with some interesting customs and changes.

From nerd to noob

At my old job I used to be the person answering IT related questions. I was one of the company nerds basically. If a customer had a technical question, I had the answer.

Working for a tech startup, that’s changed. Instead of answering questions, I am asking questions. A tech start-up is filled with people who love the work field and when you enter their circle, there is just no way to get up to speed without investing time in learning. Luckily, learning is part of the fun!

Expect the unexpected and think BIG

Normally, your work gets easier when you plan ahead. Divide your work equally between your workdays and you’ll never run into problems. Well, think again. Where this tactic works for regular companies, in a startup your plan is going to change. And it is always when you least expect it. Variation is part of the job and you better love it.

Also, there is no such thing as thinking small at a start-up. See, one of the things that differentiates a start-up from any other starting company, is scalability. Everything you do is aimed at sustainable growth. You need to constantly be on the lookout for opportunities and always go for better instead of good enough.

Enthusiasm is the most important part of the proposition

In my career, I have sold almost anything. From subscriptions to phone plans and insurances to consultancy in several fields. Every product had its USP’s and as a marketeer, you know just how to point those out.

The difference between working for a start-up instead of an established company is that the reason why the company was founded, is still part of the USP’s. As a marketeer you know first hand why the founders started and you can transfer this enthusiasm onto prospect and clients.

Team > Hierarchy

Even at a start-up there is a form of hierarchy. Anyone that will try to tell you otherwise is just fooled by the great work environment. This hierarchy serves a purpose. Decisions need to be made and not every decision is a team decision. This would be the most inefficient way of running a business.

However, the team is definitely more important than status within the company. Working at a start-up gives a sense of belonging to a group. Your colleagues solely consist of like-minded people that are determined to successfully build a company. That’s the (team)spirit!

Nerf guns are awesome

This one might not be applicable to all start-ups but deserves an honorable mention: There is simply no better way to deal with a slight crisis in inspiration, than to shoot at your colleagues with a nerf gun. You should try it sometime. Seriously.

Author: Dagmar Ingelse

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