Here's Some Advice for Millennials: Consider Working at a Startup Instead of Launching One
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The big buzz around millennials is how entrepreneurial they are. Whether or not they really are more inventive than previous generations can be debated, but it sure is easier now than for previous generations.
We have so many tools at our disposal that can make the first step into being a real-deal entrepreneur easier than ever. You can get millions of eyes on your product through Instagram. You can get help for your startup in a Facebook group. You can manufacture a product of your own design without becoming a mechanical expert. You can get an app built for you, and launch it for a few bucks.
There are plenty of fake metrics to distract us, probably more than ever in the history of business, but the barriers to entry are so low that if you can keep your focus, you’ll be fine.
Even with all of these advantages, being your own boss isn’t for everyone. You’re responsible for literally everything. The burden of the entire world can feel like it’s completely on your shoulders, and it sucks when things aren’t going great.
If you don’t want to start your own business, that’s fine. There’s so much learning and experience to be had in the modern workforce; so much fun while making some money; so many connections to make. Go find an interesting startup with a problem in your field that you find challenging and exciting.
In my years of working with startups, I’ve found that there are two types of founders -- craftsmen and experts.
Craftsmen are the best at a specific thing and are trying to stretch their talents into a product or platform that can be utilized by everyone. Experts know an industry or problem inside and out. The problem they are solving will best be solved by them, so they are going to do what they can to solve it for the entire world. Neither of these founders can do it on their own. There are plenty of special skills that they lack to bring their dream to fruition.
1. Business development.
Ahh, business development. A skill for networking and meeting people that not every entrepreneur possesses. Startups need business development for drumming up new business. Finding supply or demand and striking partnerships that can make a massive impact. If you find it extremely easy to meet new people and figure out how to work together for everyone’s benefit, there’s a startup that would love to utilize your skills.
Every startup needs to be seen. Their unique voice needs to be heard above the noise of everyone else in their industry. That only happens with good marketing. If you’re amazing at promoting things, either with ads, social media or something else, a startup somewhere desperately needs your skills.
If you went to school for finance and are finding out that traditional jobs are boring, you have three choices -- start your own accounting firm, abandon finance or find a startup.
Most early stage startups are lacking a CFO, or Chief Financial Officer. Most don’t have any finance resources at all. All of the bookkeeping is outsourced. All of the budgeting is done by the founders on the limited time they have. If you can handle finances, some startup out there needs your help.
4. Data science.
The biggest field in the business world will soon be data science. There is incredible growth in available data to companies big and small, and the barrier for entry to true data science is getting lower every year. Fortune 1000 companies aren’t the only ones that can use big data to their advantage anymore.
If you love finding value in huge sets of data, and if you love finding ways to optimize everything around you, data science may be for you. And every startup in the world needs you.
5. Engineering and development.
This has been true since the technical revolution took a firm grasp of the world: If you’re building something, you need someone to actually build it. Engineers and developers are available in droves, so some are finding it hard to find a solid entry level position. There is one and only one solution to that, and that is to become the best at something.
Find a niche in development that you like to do, and become really good at it. Become the best. Then, find a startup that has this problem and present yourself and your skills as the solution. If you deliver, they’ll love you forever.
Whatever your skill set or desire is, I can guarantee that a startup somewhere desperately needs it. Go find them. Get a job with them. Solve that problem and become the best in the world at solving that problem.
Then, you can either leverage your world-class expertise to become a consultant, start your own business dealing with that problem in a unique way, or go find another problem to solve. And in the process, you just might be part of a winning team that ends up making you a few million bucks in the process.