I’ve been working at a startup now for nearly 10 months. This is a long enough span of time to carry and birth a child, and in many ways, it feels just like that. You are creating and co-parenting a company and that’s both amazing and terrifying.
I never experienced anything like working at a startup. There is a certain rush you get in this world and I can understand how people may get addicted to it. But there are things I wish someone had told me before I jumped in, so now I am here to tell you the inside scoop:
1. Say goodbye to sleep.
I don’t sleep anymore. Well, I do engage in the act of sleeping but I dream about work and I have nightmares about work. I now keep a notebook by my bed in case I wake up with a great idea or think of a way to solve a problem. I think the only thing that keeps me on my feet during the day is pure adrenaline.
2. Get ready to be a nomad.
Our office is small and cramped, and we share an open space with some other startups. I gave up my desk about a month ago. I am “free range,” which at first is frustrating when you must carry your laptop and bag around all day, but then is oddly freeing when you suddenly realize anywhere can be your office. I’ve embraced it.
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3. Learn to fail fast and move on.
I am afraid of failure, but I am learning quickly to get over that. We launch a thousand ships daily, and sadly many will sink. I am the type of person to obsess over my mistakes, but here in startup land, I don’t have the time to dwell. A boss once told me, “May all of your mistakes be little mistakes you can learn from.” That’s what I am trying to do now. Make sure my mistakes don’t cost the company too much money and make sure the solutions I find are invaluable.
4. Ever ride a roller coaster? It’s like that emotionally.
No day is the same and every day has its ups and downs. You learn to weather the storm, but like New England weather, my mood or outlook can change in a minute. As soon as we work on one idea, we suddenly need to learn to pivot. The speed and intensity can take a toll. There’s rarely time to rest and reflect. We just keep moving and if you don’t figure out self-care, you will crash.
5. In a minute, you can move mountains.
I have never accomplished more in such a short time span in my life. From idea to execution, it’s been amazing what we have been able to do. Despite all the exhaustion and frustration, I know we are onto something.
If you are to be successful, you need to know yourself. Can you live with such constant influx and uncertainty?
Startup life may not be for everyone. It’s been a challenge for me to adjust to it. But, for now, I can’t imagine life any other way.
Working at a startup isn’t about knowing the future, it’s about creating it.
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