Startups abide by a different set of rules. Of course, these rules probably haven't been written down yet because your startup can't afford to hire HR, but they do exist. Being a part of a startup is like navigating a maze while you're drunk and blindfolded.
It's thrilling and it hurts when you bump in to the walls.
In my last couple years working in a startup, I've learned a lot of lessons, I've made a lot of mistakes, and I've worn some really fabulous outfits, but there was no guidebook to help along the way. Working in a startup and watching a company grow from nothing to something is one of the most exhilarating, fun, and inspiring things I have ever done in my life, but not one day has been easy. If you're reading the Gravitate blog, chances are you are also a part of a startup, or an entrepreneur, or just my parents hoping that I don't embarrass them with this post. Either way, I am going to be sharing some of my lessons learned along the way and tips for surviving in a startup.
Thriving in a startup is a whole other ballgame that I haven't quite figured that out yet, so let's just start with baby steps, shall we?
How To Survive In A Startup Tip #1: It's Okay To Not Love Your Job
People that say they "love" their job in a startup make me want to puke. People who say that are either 1) Annoying 2) Lying or 3) Asking for a raise. It's okay to not love your job in a startup as long as you love the company. I'm not saying you should hate your job, although some days you might. What I'm saying is that it doesn't matter whether you like your job or don't like your job, as long as you love the company and truly believe in the mission of the company.
The reality is, working in a startup is hard. It's also intoxicating, chaotic, and can be a lot of fun, but if you don't truly believe in in what the company is trying to achieve then all the stock options in the world won't be worth it.
Okay, maybe ALL the stock options would make it worth it, but I'm trying to make a point here, people.
When I first started working in a startup, I had no idea what to expect. Every day was harder than the last and every day presented new challenges to overcome. Personally and professionally. I just tried to jump in with both feet and eventually I began to trust that this bearded man with diamond earrings was really onto something big. I fell in love with the problem the company was trying to solve even though I knew nothing about payments. I wanted to be a part of changing the way the world moved money. But I never really loved my actual job within the company, and that's okay. I just wanted to be a part of the company. Although some days I really like my job and I love the people I work with, I never wanted to take my job out for a steak dinner and marry it. I married the company instead. Believing in the company and it's mission is still one of the biggest reasons I stay and survive in the company four years later. It's what keeps me hanging in there on the hard days and makes me celebrate the good days. Even though I know eventually it will matter what position I have in this company or the next, I never would have gotten this far without first believing in the company.
If you're like me and you're just starting your career, consider the company before you consider the position in the startup. The experience will be worth it and the lessons learned will be invaluable.
Trust me, if you cried in the bathroom or got really angry at work this week, that just means you're doing it right. It means you care.
Or it means you're crazy.
Either way, it's okay to not love your job. I promise I won't tell your boss.