There are a lot of things to love about working at a startup. The flexibility, the ability to help something small grow into something big, the leadership possibilities, and the great atmosphere. But if you’re trying to build a career, it’s not always easy. So much depends on the success of your company.
It can also be incredibly stressful. The uncertainty of your job, the long hours, the multiple hats, and the lack of personal time can take its toll on you. But it doesn’t have to.
You can take greater control of the direction your career is taking while taking back your life if you know how to manipulate the situation. Here are some simple things you can do to enhance your startup career and put you on the path for personal and professional success.
- Learn to Relax
The stakes are high in a startup atmosphere, whether you’re one of the founders or a regular employee. If things aren’t going well, you face potential shut down and unemployment. Additionally, you might be working long hours trying to get this thing off the ground.
Entrepreneurs in startups tend to face high levels of burnout because once the excitement of starting a business wears off, you become plain and simply tired. Over time, that stress can affect your mental and physical health long-term, including contributing to the development of conditions like anxiety, depression, heart disease, diabetes, and more.
Everyone needs to find a way to decompress and relax after work, whether it’s eating 10mg CBD gummies (see the best CBD gummies here), listening to a meditation podcast on your commute home, working out after work, or talking to friends. Any of these tactics can help you release pressure and continue working with full vigor.
- Set Reachable Goals
Is this startup what you want to be doing for the rest of your life? Or is it just a stepping stone? It’s important to set goals now so you can measure your progress and get to where you really want to be.
Only make goals that you can realistically reach. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t challenge yourself, but you don’t want to set impossible goals because the failure could derail your momentum.
For example, it might not be realistic to say that you want to be the CEO of a company within a year; however, depending on your circumstances, it might be feasible to reach that goal in 5-10 years.
You can also set micro goals along the way that will help you reach your ultimate goal. You might set goals to master new skills or pick up a side job or volunteer work to give you necessary experience that will help you qualify for your final objective.
Check in with your goals regularly to evaluate your progress and make changes where necessary.
- Recognize a Good Opportunity Knocking
The old saying goes, “When opportunity knocks, answer.” That may not always be the best advice depending on your situation. You should certainly explore every opportunity that’s thrown your way, but that doesn’t mean you should always follow through.
For example, say you’ve been working with a successful startup for a year. A headhunter finds your profile on LinkedIn and asks you to apply for an upper-level management job. This might seem like a slam dunk, but consider the state of your current company. If it has the potential to be bigger than the head-hunting company, and you can help it reach that point, it might be more advantageous to stay with your current situation.
Always be open to opportunity, but only take those chances that help you reach your ultimate goal, even if it means being patient for a few more years.
- Purposefully Diversify Your Skills
Startup employees tend to be given many hats to wear in the startup field, but that doesn’t mean you have to take all of them. It’s good to volunteer and diversify your skills, but make sure you’re participating in activities that will act as stepping-stones to your ultimate goal.
As you diversify your skillset, be mindful in what jobs you take. If you’re seeking to one day be a finance controller in a large corporation, for example, take on extra jobs that include learning software, leading accounting teams, and even participating in operations management. Each of these skills will lead you to where you want to be eventually.
Don’t be naïve in believing that the startup you’re working for is guaranteed to succeed. About 50 percent of startups will fail within the first few years of doing business, and only about 25 percent stick around for 15 years or longer.
This isn’t meant to discourage you from participating in a startup—it’s a great place to grow as an entrepreneur and career person! While you can and should pour your passion into your current job, it’s okay to keep your eyes open for other opportunities.
The is where networking comes into play. The more people you know, the more opportunities you’ll have. In your networking, you may come across people who are willing to mentor you and help you enhance your current career. You might also find people interested in hiring you when you need a different option.
- Be a Leader
Whether you’re working in a 10-man startup or a 20,000-employee corporation, leadership matters. If you have leadership skills, it’s one of the great equalizers in the business field, and it will serve you well no matter where you choose to go with your career.
Startups offer a lot of leadership opportunities, which is one reason that it’s a great place to start your career. If you’re a founding member of the company, you’re obviously expected to lead, and if you do it successfully, you’ll be a standout.
But there are leadership opportunities even for those who are not at the head of the company. You can be a project manager, a standout presenter at team meetings, a mentor for young interns, or a creative idea contributor.
Take any opportunity to stand out in your startup position, and you might find yourself climbing the ranks of the small operation. Don’t forget that all big corporation were once startups too, and if yours grows to massive proportions, you’ll be glad you put the extra emphasis on climbing the ladder when things were small.
At the very least, you’ll earn glowing reviews from the startup’s founders, which can help you achieve a position in your next job.