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10 Tips for Transitioning to Working For a Startup

If you’re considering making the major transition between a large-scale company to a smaller role within a startup, you should know that there are some pretty wild differences between the two – and probably for the better. In today’s article, we are going to detail some of those differences, and give you some pretty helpful advice should you decide to take the plunge. Startup life is so much different from anything you’ve probably been used to, but word on the streets is it’s a much better environment to work in – especially if you tend to burn out or get bored easily. Without further ado, let’s dive on in.

Tip #1: Keep an Open Mind

The best tip we can offer you is to keep a completely open mind to the differences that are sure to come your way while working with a startup. If you’re set in your ways, like things to always stay the same, and hate change, a startup position probably isn’t for you. 

On the other hand, if you feel you are able to roll with the punches, stop what you’re doing and do something else where you’re needed at the drop of a hat, possibly work outside normal work hours, including late nights, and even pick up where someone else left off to adhere to deadlines within the startup, chances are a startup is perfect for you. 

Things will be completely different from anything you’re used to. Ideas will be bounced off you that might sound a bit crazy at first. It’s all part of the process. Let it all sink in and accept that having an open mind is your new normal. 

Tip #2: Be a Team Player

There’s nothing more important within a startup than the air of community and the teamwork everyone brings to the table. Teamwork makes the metaphoric world go ‘round within a startup, and everyone pitches in and works together to make everything ebb and flow, like a well-oiled machine. 

Working together to accomplish a single task is sometimes very commonplace, and other times you will be left to your own devices to get things done. Maintaining that team-player spirit is imperative for things to work out and to flow smoothly. As you can probably understand by now, startups are made from a team of people who work together to keep things moving along seamlessly. You may have been used to cubicle life and a solitary work life in previous or maybe even current positions – but not at any given startup.

Tip #3: Offer Ideas

Your voice, opinion, and ideas are so incredibly valuable within a startup setting. Where you may have wanted to go out on a limb and offer suggestions or ideas at your current or previous jobs, and have been terribly afraid to out of fear for reprimand or being put in your place, or possibly even being fired, in a Startup, your opinions are welcome and in fact, they’re encouraged! You can absolutely feel free to share anything that comes to mind without fear of criticism, or job loss. 

Startups are built on dreams, ideas, opinions, and voices – therefore, in order for the company to grow, thrive, change, and ultimately work, ideas are everything. 

Tip #4: Expect the Unexpected

Nothing is ever 100% predictable within a startup. In fact, most things aren’t. Things will happen on a daily basis that nobody saw coming. Good things, bad things, and in-between things. The point is, never expect things to be a certain way – because chances are, they won’t. 

Tip #5: Don’t Try to Put Your Job Title Into a Box

This is one of the most difficult things for those transitioning into a startup position, probably because of what people are most used to. Don’t be tempted to put your title into a box and expect that your job title and job description is all that it says it is and nothing more. 

At a startup, you might have the job title of ‘writer’, but just because your job title and description says you will write a newsletter and some blog posts every week, doesn’t mean that’s all you’ll do. On the contrary; you might end up working with the designers to finish graphics, marketing to finish social media posts, and the CEO to get things done on the backend such as return calls and e-mails on their behalf. There is so much more to working with a startup, and you can guarantee you will most likely have more responsibility than you would at any common corporate job on any given day. 

Tip #6: Realize Kinks and Quirks are Inevitable

You might be used to things flowing seamlessly within your current or old positions, such as if they were well-oiled machines. Things only tend to go wrong or seem wonky sometimes, if ever. With a startup, things couldn’t be any more flipped in the opposite direction. Kinks and quirks abound – but it’s part of what will become the foundation and building blocks of the company – and each thing that happens is also part of what gives the company character. 

Without any of those things going haywire and without all of the obstacles, greatness cannot be achieved. The company would lack in personality and charm – and for that, you could certainly stay working at a stuffy corporate office anywhere in the world, no doubt. A startup is filled with these types of mishaps all the time- but they will lovingly craft the place into what it’s meant to be with time.

Tip #7: Give it All You’ve Got

With a small brand-new startup, you can probably expect to make a pretty basic income – somewhere around or about minimum wage at best. With an already established startup, you can expect to find wages that are totally competitive, and even generous. No matter the rate of pay, you should always keep this tip in mind: give it all you’ve got in your position. Why? Well, a few reasons. 

First of all, nobody who doesn’t give a position their all, and who doesn’t go above and beyond, will receive bonuses, pay rate increases, and incentives. 

Secondly, remember that promotions happen from within startups. If you’ve got your eye on the prize of that big, beautiful desk or a new job title, or possibly a new role that you’ve thought up and doesn’t even exist yet, give that startup every bit of who you are. Show them all that you’re deserving of that bonus, that extra dollar an hour, and that chocolate-and-music-tester-while-playing-video-games position. Dream big, and live that dream in color while giving everything you do your best shot.

 Tip #8: Be Enthusiastic or Go Home

Nobody likes Negative Nancy’s and Debbie Downers, right? Therefore, be positive, enthusiastic, and even choose to be funny. People love being around positive people. Did you know that the more you smile, the more attractive you appear to others? 

People who are happy and enthusiastic are also generally viewed as more educated, more respected, and better to be around overall. 

Lastly, the more positive you are, the better the work environment for everyone.  

Tip #9: Have Fun 

You might be at work, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to have fun while doing it! Many startups have mid-day dance parties, fun music, snack & coffee breaks, jokes-of-the-day, quirky and cool dress codes and even rooftop gardens. The sky’s the limit with a startup – have some fun while getting work done! 

Tip #10: Forget Everything You Know About Corporate Work Life

Last but not least, forget everything you know and everything you’ve been used to about corporate and company work life. If you can embrace your position at a startup with open arms, positivity, and a willingness to accept change, you will fare well at your new position with a startup. Remember that, while you may have all of the experience you need to succeed, this is a completely different type of work environment, and you will more than likely absolutely love it. 

Once you get acquainted with your new position within a startup, everything will fall into place – sort of. Embrace the crazy, the different, and the fun. It will be the best experience of your entire life!

To find available positions at a startup local to you, or even a remote startup position, be sure to check out Unicornboard.com for loads of incredible startup positions you can apply to.