So far in my career, I’ve had the opportunity to work at various startups ranging from a music production house to a buzzy mobile product to an executive staffing firm. At each of these organizations I was fortunate enough to learn a lot – and find myself in various scenarios with equally interesting people.
I didn’t just perfect my description of wearing the proverbial amount of hats and/or make endless jokes about the definition of adequate health insurance (it should be preventative, not circumstantial!). In hindsight, I took away more positive concepts and ideas that affect how I think about doing business as a whole.
For example, many opportunities arise in startup situations as opposed to companies where roles and assorted responsibilities are noted and documented in a more comprehensive way. Startups offer opportunity – for everyone – if they’re chosen to be found. Below, the top five takeaways I’ve picked up along the way.
1. Nurture your talent.
Once you get them in the door it’s not enough. Look in unexpected places for underlying skill sets and strengths. Encourage each hire to grow on a professional and individual level – these criteria go hand-in-hand. Your talent is the only thing that matters. Value their opinions, pay close attention to direct feedback not only related to their contributions but to the company as a whole. In day-to-day tasks allow them flourish at what they do – then get out of the way.
2. Don’t do it just for the money.
Build something that matters. Ask yourself – at the end of the day, will this product or service help people? How can we maximize what we’re doing to make a contribution in the world? Which leads to…
3. Invoke personal investment through Passion.
It’s simple: when people are passionate about what they do on a daily basis, they place greater value and a subsequent higher level of tending to their work. Demonstrate interest, acknowledge value, encourage communication, and ignite passion.
4. Create structure.
Don’t do things like allow programmers to work for 24 hours straight. Totally #uncool. To be fair, it’s easy to let that happen when everyone is under the gun to get something out the door. But people are not machines, and even the most promising of products is not assembled via assembly line. Humans need rest and sunlight too. Create infrastructure through clear job descriptions and duties, regular interdepartmental meetings and 1:1′s between supervisors and direct reports. Keep everything organized, stick to timelines – and demonstrate accountability, respect and value for your team members.
5. Be wild.
Be creative, have fun! Allow pets (within reason), offer classes, go on bowling outings, trips to the zoo, paint, draw, create, collaborate. Allow the magic to happen!