Working at a start-up: everything you need to know
Surely you’ve heard the word start-up more than once. But what does it mean? What skills do you need to work at one?
A start-up is an emerging, newly-created company, with high growth potential, linked to new technologies or innovative business models, and with a high rate of return.
To work at one, you need to have a passion for your project, motivation to bring it to fruition, flexibility to dedicate hours to it and do the tasks that must be carried out, and commitment to the company. But if you do what you love, can it be considered work?
5 key skills to work at a start-up
- Proactivity: these types of companies do not just look for people in search of work, but want professionals that offer them services and believe in the idea.
- Positive attitude and professionalism. Not only do they look at resumes, but they also value the energy that candidates exude. Attitude will be key.
- Adaptation: people who adapt to everything and are willing to pursue their passion, who are disruptive, too, and don’t settle for everything.
- Differentiation: they look for passion rather than talent, people who believe in the project, who share the values of the start-up. You have to be different and creative.
- Flexibility: versatile people with autonomy.
Focused on work by goals
You can already say goodbye to schedules: the traditional office workday has no place in a start-up, and priority is given to the project and delivery times. You have to be careful, because this becomes a double-edged sword: it favours the flexibility of workers’ schedules, but at the same time you can work too many hours if you do not manage this properly.
In most cases, it will be indifferent whether you prefer to work in the morning, in the afternoon, or on Sunday night: what matters is that the task is delivered when it has to. Everyone needs to be organized in the way that is most productive for them. Generally, specialized people are sought, but, taking into account the work methodology, it is equally important that they are flexible, open-minded, good team workers, good learners, and quickly adaptable to change.
Dismantling myths about start-ups
The flexibility and constant change of start-ups implies, even if it seems the opposite, more organization than in conventional companies. If you have not been selected as a candidate, the best thing you can do is keep in touch, as there may be a place for you in the future. It is also not true that it is limited to young people: they need experienced people and, contrary to popular belief, if the company has good future prospects, salaries are usually competitive.
The selection process is also not usually traditional, as personal and professional characteristics that go beyond the curriculum are valued. The preparation for the interview will be key: find out what they do and how they work, and look for aspects of the project in which you can contribute. And, above all, be different. Any HR person is used to seeing hundreds of resumes a day. Do not miss the opportunity, and take out your best weapons to attract attention. Get away from the conventional. It is a good idea to achieve other skills apart from the current one, to train in other skills such as Excel, HTML, or WordPress. Note that most start-ups revolve around technology, and sooner or later you will have to use them.
Proactivity and emotional intelligence: the combination of success
Working at a start-up will be an adventure where nothing is permanent. Even your position may change, and you may end up in a different department. Remember the skills above, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Proactivity will be your best ally.
Lastly, you need to have knowledge of emotional intelligence, to manage behaviour, relationships, and decisions. For everything that happens to bring you to fruition, you must reduce negative emotions, know how to manage stress, be more assertive, stay proactive, and bounce back to adversity. Paying close attention to the emotions of oneself and others, especially in difficult times or of a certain intensity, will help us a lot.
What matters in a start-up is the will to improve, to do whatever it takes, and to have the passion to do it.
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