Staying The Course: What It Means To Work In A Startup
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When I compare my life before and after working at a startup, I find that one of the things I miss most about the former is, curiously enough, something that often irritated me during my time in that setting. I’m talking about the structure that working at a corporation imposes on you as an employee. Corporate life means that you’re almost always operating within the paradigms set by the management of the enterprise.
While I remember feeling quite constricted by that kind of an organizational structure, nowadays I find myself often longing for this kind of definition in my day-to-day life in the entrepreneurial realm. That being said, I believe it’s pretty much impossible to work in a startup with that kind of rigidity governing you. In my opinion, being open to change (and reacting quickly to it) is part and parcel of the equation when working in a startup environment.
I bring this up because I’ve been coming across people with corporate backgrounds who join startups, and then look to be lost and underperforming in their roles there. As I see it, this usually happens because they are wholly unprepared for work in their new settings. Mostly because it requires them to, more often than not, don a variety of hats alongside the role they had taken on in the first place, and do a lot more than what a job description lays out.
In a corporate, employees are often obliged (and even encouraged) to “stay in their lanes.” Doing the same in a startup would see you getting called out for not showing initiative! I do feel sorry for the seasoned executives who find themselves in the latter scenario at startups, but, at the same time, if they thought this was going to be all about, say, flexible hours and fun lifestyles, well, they have no one else to blame but themselves for drinking the startup Kool-Aid.
Working at a startup is hardly, if ever, as glamorous as it may seem on Instagram- rest assured that startup life is more about “#WorkHard” than “#PartyHard.” You’ll almost certainly be doing more at a startup than what you used to at your former place of work, and you’ll also be putting a lot more of yourself in this endeavor than probably any other thing you’ve done in your life thus far. This means that the whole experience will be incredibly fulfilling, and there will be a real sense of pride you can bask in at the end of it all. But simultaneously know that this won’t happen overnight, and that you’ll need to be in it for the long haul. And if you can’t handle that heat, then get out of the kitchen.