Should you work for a startup to learn how they operate?

Portrait of a startup
I have a friend who wants to start a business. But, he wants to know how other startups do things. There is a certain energy at startups that is contagious — a zeal, a passion, a certain “je ne sais quoi.” The problem with startups is that the people running them don’t always have solid business experience. They are also working on a limited budget and don’t always have the best resources for hiring the right people. There will normally be one or two very talented people who have amazing skills, but are winging it as far as business predictions, human resources, and management are concerned.

Casual is good!
Startups are also fun because they are often casual, have a lot of younger energetic people, and have room for fast job advancement. If the company doesn’t fold, you’ll probably be promoted to Vice President the minute the boss can put someone under you!

Fixed routines might not exist
Companies that are venturing out into new directions are very different from long established companies with set routines and set procedures. I remember when I started my company how I changed my techniques for doing everything. My programmers and employees got really upset. They had just learned my methods, and then I changed them just like that. Being frustrated with change is not a good way to start if you want to work at a startup. You need to embrace change, and also understand the reasoning behind the changes (if there is any.) Additionally, your job description might need to include “other things.” The boss might not be able to afford a full time janitor or social media expert, so you might have to do both when you are not in marketing, you’re in management. If your tech genious quits, you might find yourself in HR when you signed up for a job in sales. If the company grows, but you haven’t yet moved into your new office, you might be stuffed in the corner. But, it’s all good, because this is part of the overall excitement of working for a startup. Personally, I love it.

Learning from the pros
If you want to learn from seasoned business people, the management teams at Coca Cola or Toyota are who I would sign up to learn from. Although they are far from startups, they have the most innovative, top notch managers that you can get. They have had to deal with more complicated situations, growth issues, marketing issues, and tactical situations than you can imagine. Those managers come up with smooth and well thought out solutions to any type of problem while managers at small businesses are often very limited in their thinking — especially if they have no experience like in many startups. Sure, working for a startup might be exciting, but learning from people who are competent is also exciting if you don’t mind being around suits all day long. My psychic and I channeled twenty companies using “magical” means (consciousness.) The results that we found were that the best business advice that we got came from seasoned pros. Organizations like Harvard or Hyundai were light years more sophisticated during the channeling than newly mushroomed companies like Uber or Twitter. My personal experience sounds very bizarre (and it is,) but try to think a little more deeply about the situation. Do you want to learn management skills from someone sound or someone who lacks a stable foundation? Who do you think you’ll learn more from? Personally, I feel you should try it both ways as you will learn different things from each experience.

The failure rate is high
Most startups do not succeed in the long run. There is a lot that can go wrong and many factors that will be out of your control. People who make the most money in business are able to perform a service or create a product that is better than anyone else’s. How can you possible be better when your company has no experience? However, if the owner of the company has twenty years experience working in robotics and your startup is in robotics, then you have a fighting chance since your skills are not just starting up.

If you don’t have the complete skillset
Many people dream about doing business. I once dreamed about it to. Now, I’m really “in business” as my friend Steve used to say with emphasis. The reality is not so glamerous. I need to do twenty types of tasks every day. If I only did nineteen out of the twenty, my business wouldn’t stay afloat. People I hire only want to do one or two tasks. When you ask them to do three, they start complaining. The lady who does incoming calls complains if she has to do outgoing. The lady who does over the phone testing doesn’t want to do social media. The person who likes social media, doesn’t want to write blogs. I have to do all of these things and more — and be good at all of them or I am out of business. If you are serious about working for a startup, you have to multi-task and be good at all of your tasks. If you start your own startup, then you have to do more than multi-task or you are out of business.

Think positively
If you do a good job, you might be the next Google, Uber, Baidu, or Facebook. So, work hard, try hard, and even if things don’t go as expected, you will learn a lot. Stay thirsty for success my friends!

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