Remarkably, Forbes forecasts that by 2020 freelance employment will consume 50% of the American workforce. Sure – not all freelancing is considered within the startup phase of business, but both freelancing and startups share common incentives that explain why the workforce is migrating away from large corporations. Through my experience interning at multiple large corporations and startups, and as a result of currently working at Kickfurther (not Kickstarter), it has become transparent why working at a startup is so superior:
You understand how imperative you will be at a startup beginning with your interview. A common startup interview question goes along the lines of “what can you do for us?” instead of “can you do this for us?” As a business becomes more established, it becomes more sure of its specific needs. In contrast, a young company wants everything they can squeeze out of you in addition to why you were being interviewed in the first place. Your influence is typically felt starting on your very first day at work. Arriving at Kickfurther, I was fortunate enough to meet and hear from every C-level position on my first day alone and I still meet with them at least once a week. The accessibility to close relationships builds trust and with such frequent chances to interact with company executives I have been granted the opportunity to actually see my ideas implemented. For instance, Kickfurther’s homepage used to give the impression that we were lacking traction because there were no visible funding opportunities. In reality there was quality traction, but the homepage only displayed live opportunities, and opportunities often close in a matter of minutes. I suggested that the homepage show both currently live opportunities and recently fundednopportunities as the lack of apparent traction was potentially deterring people – this change was deployed in less than a week.
2. Unmatched growth
This applies not only to the business growth you hopefully get to experience, but especially to your personal and occupational growth. At a large corporation you cannot ask the CEO to help you with pitching your business idea or ask the CTO code questions daily (actually some of my questions revolved around roadblocks that I encountered when coding this blog). A significant catalyst of your growth will be rooted in the experience you gain from being assigned tasks that you were not specifically hired to take on. Let’s say that you know someone that could be a potential customer: go write your sales pitch. Or there is a need for more content to inform users: write a blog post! A startup understands why you were hired and will utilize and cultivate your talent, but they will also give you tasks that do not fit your job description. This nurtures competence and abilities that would otherwise remain untapped. Not only is such an environment critical for developing yourself and your skills, but it is also stimulating and exciting.
9 to 5 workdays? Not in sight. Timeliness is essential in any startup environment and so is meeting a required amount of hours, but getting to decide your hours is fairly customary. You also dress as you wish, but that is where the relaxed attitude ends. Startups are particularly high paced and you will get left behind if you do not stay devoted day-to-day. Every Monday at Kickfurther we start the week with something called KPI’s, or Key Performance Indicators. KPI’s measure items such as weekly active users, cash on hand, and revenue. KPI’s encapsulate our overall goals that range from increasing inbound leads to increasing our user base. Finally, everyone is assigned weekly tasks that will accomplish the KPI’s and subsequently help us achieve our company-wide goals. Every Monday we go task by task and everyone shares whether or not they completed their tasks that they committed to the previous week. In no way does this exercise create a culture of humiliation or blame - it contrarily creates an open and sincere environment of accountability. An enormously involved culture greatly contributes to the success of the business and holds everyone accountable.
4. It's exciting
At startups, work and responsibility are not viewed as something you dread, but rather as an opportunity that is embraced. Coworkers become dependable friends as they struggle and succeed together through channeling their collective entrepreneurial spirit. The experience of failure and exhilaration of success are ingrained in the journey of creating something innovative. Also, milestones are a LOT of fun. At Kickfurther we recently reached the point of funding over $500K in offers, we are closing our first round of funding since going through the Boulder accelerator Boomtown, and we have surpassed our biggest campaign funding day three times in three weeks.
The unique startup culture demands an intrinsic energy and enthusiasm that not all people possess. However, for those like myself who experience genuine passion and motivation, the startup environment is incredibly rewarding. Go make a name for yourself and not for The Man. Create influence, grow a company, embrace a fun culture, and stimulate yourself as startups bloom all over the country.