The other day I was chatting up a recent college grad. He started drilling me with the typical questions about my background, major, and crept up to asking me: “What’s the difference between working at a big company versus working at a startup?”
A lot of things come to mind. Before starting here at Cloudability, my short career had consisted mostly of working at big companies. Really big companies. There are a lot of differences, and it’s something I’ve thought a lot about.
Startups are really sexy. Lots of booze. Apple products. Loft spaces with exposed beams (Hansel, so hot right now). But, now that I’ve had 3 months in the startup trenches, I can talk to some of the things that make me really proud of my job … beyond the beer and Apple products.
Startups need talented people, not specific job titles. This means that you can approach a startup you think is doing something amazing and sell them on YOU. If you get them hooked, you immediately come in doing what you want to be doing. And what you want to be doing can change drastically in a really short time frame. At a startup, you have the opportunity to explore new things you might never have considered doing, and you’ll be exposed to new things that you could end up loving.
In a startup, there is no hiding. Everything that you take on is yours to own, your responsibility. You get your little island of the company and folks will largely stay off of it. Most things get vetted but, ultimately, you’re responsible for getting the best things out there. Things need to happen quickly and you will be tasked with making sure that things get done. You own everything you do.
This is the most important thing, the crux of the startup coolness. Startups give you the freedom to put something out into the world, the real world, just because you know that it should exist. Come up with some crazy, creative sales techniques? Marketing campaigns? An interesting website design? Great, go make it happen. You are given the creative freedom to run with it. That doesn’t mean that people won’t tell you no. They will. But it’s usually with good reason. They won’t fall back on the old “that isn’t the way we have done things”. You take the feedback and move on to the next idea.
Now startups aren’t for everyone. If you enjoy security, free time, scheduling yoga at the same time every week, there are other paths that might be better. But if it sounds like an amazing challenge, go do it.
In his famous commencement speech, Neil Gaiman talks about the importance of doing good work . It will always be there as something to fall back on. A startup gives you that freedom to go create, learn, fail, do good work. You can find the opportunity to build something the world can’t stop using. It’s crazy how proud you become of your job when all that happens. Your career will last a long time, go find that awesome challenge.
If I haven’t scared you off, and you think the Startup life might be for you, check out our jobs page. We would love to hear from you.