My first startup experience continues to intrigue me with what could have been. But it also haunts me as six months later, I am still waiting to tie up some financial loose ends.
Below are some interesting lessons I walked away with from my brief time in the startup space.
- Be a believer – you need to truly believe in the product and service you are building and it is important to continue believing. How many colleagues in an established business just come in and do the day-to-day and are not really present? A startup, especially in the early stages requires all of your attention, your passion and your drive.
- Learn to like roller coasters – I’ve worked in digital for almost 20 years and thought I was resilient to the effects of change on a business. The startup redefined how much change there can actually be, sometimes it does feel like a roller coaster ride. It makes you even more adaptable, resilient and level headed in dealing with challenging situations.
- Treat it like it’s your money – you need to be cautious with how you spend startup money. Some people still want to hire the best agency, buy the best software, travel business class and have swish offices. You need to be smart with every single dollar and treat it like you would your own money. With every financial decision I asked myself – can I get this free somewhere?
- Never stop asking questions – a startup can be a very fast moving and a fluid environment. By continually asking questions you can evolve and grow with the business. Often decisions are made very quickly and you need to understand the reasoning and the impact on your responsibility. This will also help you understand the financial viability of the startup.
- Have an exit strategy – I jokingly describe my startup experience to my friends as being in a bad relationship. There’s a point you know you should get out, but you just can’t seem to break free because you are invested emotionally and mentally. Regardless as to whether it is a start up or corporate role, always have your resume updated, keep your ear out for opportunities and recognise the signs that it is time to leave.
- Give it a go! – this final lesson is relevant for any type of work. My startup foray was an interesting mix of experiences and honestly, I am not where I expected to be with my career right now. After all the highs and lows, I strongly believe it has given me an improved outlook on the way I approach my work. It has even opened a few different doors for my career and we’ll see how that progresses. I would still do it again. If you have an interesting opportunity, give it a go!