The skills and mindset you need to thrive in a startup


Working for a startup is a unique experience. With limited manpower and plenty of work for everyone, it’s not unusual to find employees juggling different roles and responsibilities. Unlike large corporations where you’re just another cog in the wheel, each worker in a startup is vital and is at the forefront of the business with every act making an impact on the company.

Working in a startup requires a diverse pool of skills and an open mindset. If you're entering the job market or making a career change, this field can be intimidating but to help you get started we’ve compiled a list of skills needed for you to thrive.

In a startup, especially if it’s a small team,  you will need to be able to juggle multiple tasks at once as multitasking is a way of life. Being able to do more with less is what drives a startup towards progress.

There are not enough hours in a day to complete all that needs to get done, so multitasking can be a bit chaotic. However, if done correctly it can help you achieve impressive results.

Learn, learn, learn!
As startups usually have smaller teams you can find yourself thrown right into the work. You’re likely to have more responsibility and sometimes might need to dabble in other roles you are not familiar with. Take the opportunity to learn from the mistakes you make while developing new skills.

Know how to communicate
People tend to communicate well when times are good but shut down when things go badly. However, this is when you need to get your communication skills on point so everyone is in the know. This will prevent misunderstandings and breaks of trust.

In a startup, change is constant. Nonetheless, uncertainty is only created when people don’t communicate properly about the changes going on.

Think creatively
In a startup, you're constantly solving problems. You're hired in part for your ability to think outside the box and to apply acceptable industry standards in new ways.

Don’t know where to start? Read this guide on creative thinking!

Be passionate
Startups want to find people who love their company almost as much as they do. Working at a startup can be like riding a roller coaster: there are often highs and lows. If you’re passionate you’ll be more likely to work harder and stay on the course.

Show attitude
You’ll need to be a self-starter. Show this in your application, don’t just mention it. What open source projects have you contributed to? What are your side projects and how do you spend your spare time?

Even the way you follow up and behave in the application process can help back up your ability to get things done and build momentum.

In the workplace, empathy shows a deep respect for co-workers and shows that you care, as opposed to just going by rules and regulations. Empathy is the ability to step into someone else’s shoes, be aware of their feelings and understand their needs. An empathic leadership style can make everyone feel like a team and increase productivity, morale and loyalty. Empathy is a powerful tool in the leadership belt of a well-liked and respected executive.

Whatever type or role or company you work for, make sure you learn and adapt as you go, but most importantly, have fun!