When I first joined a startup, it was right after finishing studies. After almost 3 years of working here, I felt I was in a burnout phase, so I took a vacation to Myanmar. There are times when it’s not easy. There are several lessons learned in a startup, but not all of them paint the perfect world of a startup.
Working in a startup has its ups and downs and you have to be tough to survive this roller-coaster.
But why did I join a startup in the first place? And what working in a startup has taught me?
7 lessons learned in a startup
1. You can make a change
As cliché as it sounds, it’s only by joining a startup team that you will understand this.
When I joined my team, the CEO presented me the idea of the project and I started working on it. I believed in it, and did everything I could to make it real. One year later, my baby project began making clients happy and myself proud.
If you’re following my posts, you already know what my project is all about.
2. People have no idea how to do it
One of the most useful lessons learned in a startup, that removed some pressure form my shoulders is that people have no idea how to do things. That’s why we brainstorm a lot.
Starting from a project’s idea, we begin developing it.
At first we don’t know what it takes to develop an idea. How much time, how much effort, how many code lines… People have no clue!
So we have to debate guidelines and the process is decided on the go. The SCRUM approach is what makes us stay on track, correct ourselves and improve the process towards the result.
The catch? No hard deadlines! (which is a blessing and a curse at the same time).
3. You never stop learning
As the process is improved and adapted on the go, you’re forced to research new means of developing your ideas, the project. Maybe you need to look into a new technology, maybe you have to write scalable code, or you have to study papers of that algorithm you heard of in university and didn’t bother with it.
Or the client wants new features and we said yes without thinking of the implications? Oups! Now put your startuper hat on and play your magic!
4. More and more is expected from you
You’re that damn good, people think you’re a wizard.
Now that you’ve proven that you and your team are able of pulling it together, everyone wants more from you.
The startup brings in more clients – which is a good thing for its development -, but the increase of the responsibilities does not mean an increase of your benefits too. They’re not correlated.
You learn how to fuel yourself from the pats on back.
5. Your schedule is flexible
But hey, all is nice because you are allowed to arrive half an hour later because you need that coffee or the extra half hour of sleep. And you deserve it. Anyway, you’ll stay in late to repair that bug or finish that algorithm.
6. People won’t necessarily notice your efforts
And you do this, it’s your schedule and it works for you. You love what you do, so it’s no problem you stay couple of hours late to get the work done.
Just be aware that the day you will need to leave early, people will miss your work. At this point, everyone is so depended on your work they might be mad at you for letting them with the job unfinished.
7. Remuneration sux
Working in a startup means you’re being paid under the price of the market for your niche, or, the best case scenario, the lower end of the range. You don’t have any other benefits: no paid gym membership, no paid holiday ticket, no holidays bonus. Only the minimal benefits, regulated by law.
But don’t worry, you’re a hard worker, maybe you’ll have equities, that now are worth nothing, but maybe someday, they’ll bring you couple of extra bucks. You just have to work for the startup in the same minimal conditions and frugal salary with no benefits until the day it’s sold (or new investors arrive).
Working in a startup is not easy, as you have to work hands-on everything, do all you’re capable of, even if it’s not your domain, find a way of achieving team’s goals.
I didn’t want to sugar coat the startup life, because it’s not easy working in a startup. Sometimes it’s gratifying to see your ideas transformed into a finished product or service, but most of the times you have to figure things out, find innovative ways for your methods, endure times of hard work.
When first started this work in the startup, I sure would’ve needed a truthful insights of what working in a startup means, or even a piece of advice about sacrifices or trade-offs you are not oblige to do. But this is another whole subject I might cover one day.