5 Things I Learned Working At An Early Stage Startup

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So you’re thinking of joining a startup…But are on the edge after stumbling upon blogs that strictly oppose the idea? Joining a startup can be as good or bad as you make of it. No two experiences are identical. A startup culture definitely has its pros and cons, but one thing is certain – whether the company succeeds or fails, you will walk away with new and valuable skills. 


Here are 5 things I learned when working for a startup:


1. Be ready to ramp up your time management skills! 

A startup culture is very fast-paced and focused on results. Tasks in a startup often require immediate attention – one of the many differences between working in a corporate establishment. This means that sometimes you will find yourself replying to emails and notifications within hours (or even minutes!) and during weekends. However, as you navigate through your daily schedule at a startup, you will learn to become more self-disciplined and prompt in getting tasks done.


2. Flexibility is key

Change happens faster at a startup. A startup continuously evaluates new and more effective approaches that drive in value to the company. In my experience, a flexible attitude is very important to completely embrace rapid changes that occur within a startup. With a fluctuating remote work schedule, I initially found it difficult to plan my entire schedule for the week in order to achieve a healthy work-life balance. I often found myself putting in more work hours than I originally intended to keep up with the tasks thrown my way throughout the week. However, I eventually learned to embrace the change and make the most out of these opportunities.


3. You will be involved in decision-making

An early stage startup does not have the structure of a traditional corporate hierarchy or a strict chain of command. This means that you can be involved in decision-making and drive change in keeping with the company mission. At any of my previous jobs, I would never have had a chance to drive serious change, since those important dialogues usually happened at the level of senior leadership. But now, I have that opportunity.

I am able to convey my ideas, knowing they will be heard and implemented. I am even able to offer constructive feedback, while also becoming more open to scrutiny myself. This is the essence of working for a startup – greater opportunity for ownership, more accountability and professional growth.


4. Understand that it’s not just a job

At a startup you will encounter people that truly care about what they do. It’s not simply just a job for them. The typical nine to five work-life does not apply here. They are passionate about their work and are mission-driven to deliver results. This is not to say that corporate employees are not motivated by their work, however, there are some employees that only see their work as a job or a salary. Although there is nothing wrong with this, this isn’t the mindset you will come across in a startup.

When I started working at Neophyto Foods, I met people who were really committed to their work. They cared about what they did, the results they delivered, and company successes. At a startup, it is an all-hands-on-deck attitude, making sure high quality results are delivered.


5. Opportunities for growth are endless

A startup is the perfect place to work if you are driven by challenges. You may regularly find yourself occupied with tasks that you lack experience for and otherwise may not be deemed capable of doing at big corporations. Situations like these are the greatest learning opportunities that will help expand your skills in a role that you seemingly thought you were ill-prepared for.

However, this is the most exciting thing about working at an early stage start-up! I have learned many skills that are not taught in a classroom or in books, and I continue to learn as I navigate through additional online resources. Working at a startup will grant you more responsibility and opportunities for growth and taking ownership of your work.

The Bottom Line?

Working for a startup is a unique experience. You will develop important lifelong skills, such as learning to quickly adapt to changing situations and embrace flexibility, while also putting your time management skills to a test! 

Some may say startups lack structure. While this may be true, it is important to remember that the structure is created by you. Startups give you the freedom to work at your own schedule. With time, working at a startup will solidify your attitude and skills when it comes to adapting to changing demands and will help master self-discipline. A startup culture will teach you something new every day and help build a solid work ethic. 

If you desire an exponential rate of learning and a rewarding experience, a startup is the optimal place to work!


Rahbika Ashraf

Rahbika Ashraf is a Business Development and Growth Marketing Assistant at Neophyto Foods, with a background in Human Health and Nutritional Sciences from University of Guelph. She is passionate about health and wellness research, and bridging knowledge gaps with science! When she is not typing away, you can find her meditating, hiking, playing sports and watching TV shows.

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