5 Things I’ve Learned Working For a Startup

For the past four months I have been working as a web developer and graphic designer at a small start-up company near Washington, D.C. I have noticed, and come to enjoy five specific aspects of working at this small startup company.

1. There is always something to do.

A startup company should have one constant problem – too much work. Too much work is a not so subtle sign that growth is occurring. (I am painting in broad strokes, but you get the idea).

As a developer and designer I am constantly producing client work or developing features for our in house application. This is a good thing.

Everyday I watch as our company grows and expands.

If you represent growth as a function, then working tirelessly would be the result. Which is true, yet it also means that what we are producing is working, and not only that, it is working well enough that more and more people have interest. This is meaningful, and powerful. If I was not intrinsically motivated to develop I would not last long at a startup.

2. You will always have the opportunity to learn.

Working with a small team of talented professionals helps you grow individually. If you work at a startup you will learn something new that applies not only to your work life, but to your life life.

I constantly ask the lead developer at our company questions ranging from IDE’s and languages to general organization and code modularization.

At a startup your coworkers invest in helping you.

This mentality is bread into the culture of startups. We have hired new employees since I arrived and I have consistently been running to my neighbors desk to help out whenever I can.

Teaching, learning, and growing with one another is a crucial aspect of a successful startups culture.

3. Your voice is heard and will carry weight in discussion.

At a startup company the title on your business card does not matter. Whether you are “junior developer”, or “chief technology wizard” your voice will carry weight in discussion.

At 19 I can offer a different perspective then some of my older coworkers, and much to my amazement (initially), they listen and (on occasion) put in place what I suggest.

If you have a good idea and you share it, your peers will listen.

4. The team makes decision.

When decisions are made there is no ultimate decision maker.

At a startup you work to avoid belittling, or editing something without any purpose. At larger organizations higher-ups can and will intentionally alter a design solely to leave there fingerprint on the process. At a startup you constantly avoid this. The team makes decisions with one purpose in mind – how will this most benefit the customer/user?

5. The team is only as strong as the weakest link.

Consistently working with the same group of people can prove difficult. To avoid stress and maximize communication everyone must be equally engaged and focused on the task at hand.

In this small of a setting it becomes obvious if someone is not pulling their weight. This drags down the entire group and can have extremely negative impacts on the team.

To avoid this a startup must try and help bring these people up to speed, or move along. As the team grows maintaining a high level of work ethic, skill, and dedication is key.


Join the discussion on /r/startups.