Working for a startup is no cakewalk, but it is very fun! Startups are risky, fast-paced and constantly changing, and as a result, startup jobs are hard. People who work for small companies can be under a lot of pressure, but their jobs can also be very rewarding. Here are 5 helpful tips for working at a startup!
1 | Time management is key
When you are working for a startup, there are always tasks to be completed, projects to work on, and ways to help out. It’s easy to spend too much time on one specific task and accidentally leaving other projects to the wayside. You should always be aware of how you are spending your time, and always check to make sure that your time would not be better spent doing something else.
Pro tip – make a daily list of what you would like to accomplish before going home, and at the end of each day, reflect on what you did or didn’t get done. This is a useful exercise for two reasons. First – it will give a chance to consider all of your daily tasks and decide how to prioritize your time at the start of each day. Second – there is great value in reflecting on how you’ve spent your day. It can make you aware of time management habits you may not have noticed about yourself, and it provides the opportunity to improve.
Also read: How to Get a Job at a Startup
2 | Always look for ways to help
Growing a company is hard. Startups have limited money, very little time, and intense competition. With this shortage of resources, it is important that you are pulling your weight and helping where you can. Before you approach your supervisor asking if they have any work for you, it’s often a good idea to look around and find ways you can help out on your own. This way, you aren’t making someone else use their time to try to find work for you, and if you look for work on your own, you can get involved in the things that interest you and are helpful to the company!
3 | Be aware of what your coworkers are doing
Because startups are small, each employee often has a variety of responsibilities, some of which may not even directly relate to their position. Some departments may even only consist of one person! One issue with startups is that when they are really small, if one person is out sick or quits their job, it can be hard for others to know how to fill in for them. This is why it’s important to know what your coworkers spend their days doing, and how they do it.
Knowing about what your coworkers are doing will also help you do your job better. Virtually all of the departments in a small company must constantly communicate with each other, and knowing how your co-workers spend their days will not only make you more useful to them, but it can help make communication between departments better.
Also read: What Size Startup Should You Join?
4 | Always be learning
In a startup, every employee matters, and every decision is consequential. As mentioned earlier, employees of startups wear many hats, and are responsible for a variety of projects. Because of this, it is crucial to always be learning. Learn both from the projects you are working on, and also take time to learn outside of the office. Keep up with current events, read books, and pay attention to the industry, even if your job doesn’t directly require you to do so. You never know when something you’ve learned may end up being useful, or when you’ll have the next big idea!
For example, as an employee of Scouted, I was tasked with researching new and innovative ways to get to know the personalities of Scouted users to better match them to job opportunities. In the process of combing through assessments, quizzes, and scientific psychology journals, I learned quite a bit about how a person’s personality can predict the types of work environments they would thrive in. The things that I learned ended up not only being useful for Scouted, but they will be useful at any other startup I work at in the future!
5 | Make sure you are having fun
Startups are a lot of fun, but only if you allow them to be. Fast-paced environments can be stressful, and it can be easy to get too wrapped up in your work. Employees of startups often feel that they never run out of work to do. It is not uncommon for people who work at startups to unintentionally neglect their friends, family, or health because they are unable to find work-life balance. This can be avoided with careful planning. It is crucial to draw a line in the sand and make it clear to not only yourself, but also your co-workers and boss what your limits are. At the start of any startup job, write out a list of what your work-life balance demands are, and stick to them. For example, “I will not do any work after 9:00 PM more than three days per week” could be a good goal to have.
It is also key to plan vacations one or twice per year, and take a few self-care days in between. Everyone needs time off to maintain their sanity, no matter how important work may feel. Depriving yourself of sleep, exercise, or free time to decompress will not only hurt you, but it will hurt your productivity, which in turn affects your company. Kick-off your shoes and watch that show you’ve been too busy to start, read that book that’s been collecting dust, book tickets for that band that’s finally going on tour, or stay in bed past noon on a Saturday. Taking a break every once in a while isn’t just fun – it’s essential.
If you have any pro tips of your own that you’ve used to impress your boss, keep to deadlines, or have more fun at work please leave them in the comments below – we’d love to learn from you!