What to Expect When Working at a Startup

A start-up company is not just like any other new business. It’s a new business that has its sights set for big things, and while start-ups are young companies that have their work cut out for them, success is not easy.

 

A quote from the cofounder and co-CEO of Warby Parker explains this further in a recent Forbes article. “A startup is a company working to solve a problem where the solution is not obvious and success is not guaranteed.” Those are tough odds for young companies looking to break into their market. And yet, start-ups continue to be on the rise in the U.S., with thousands of young hopefuls looking to be a part of the next big thing.

 

If you’re considering a job with a start-up, or are looking to join an existing start-up, here’s what you should expect.

 

Expect Change

Change could happen nearly every day at a startup. Since things are new and really young start-ups tend to only have a handful of employees, there’s likely not a rulebook yet as you’re just getting started on figuring out how to run your business. This makes for an exciting atmosphere, but it can also test your patience. You have to have a high tolerance for fast paced change, because adaptability is really the true nature of your business.

 

Everyone is Important

It’s not a generational approach; at a startup, everyone is a crucial member of the team. Even if there is a solid managerial structure in place, your work is vital to the success of the company. You won’t be able to hide at your desk if you’re feeling drained. This can create a very welcoming and supportive environment but can overwhelm anyone who’s not sure if they are up for the challenge. Teamwork will be heavily relied upon, and new ideas are nurtured instead of being turned away based on your tenure.

 

Benefits, Schedules and Offices are Untraditional

One of the most appealing aspects of start-ups is how untraditional they are. Younger generations have seen those before them fall into a working pattern that leaves people feeling a bit stuck in a routine every day. Start-ups often offer nontraditional job aspects that are extremely attractive, such as an open office with a casual environment, happy hours and downtown lunches with your teammates to celebrate wins, and flexible working hours with unlimited sick days. While these perks sound great at first, they can sometimes become cons quickly. Because startups are still growing, they do not always have the ability to afford health insurance and other standard benefits at a traditional company.

 

Things Move Quickly

Start-ups are a fast paced environment. Just as quickly as your dreams were realized, they can be taken away. While the long term successes will be great, it’s getting there that can be the problem. This means that you have to be able to prioritize projects to accommodate for big clients and changing routines. You could be moving offices quickly as you continue to grow as well. If you usually like to take a third or fourth pass at your work before sending it to a client for review, you’ll have to settle for two rounds. Time is very valuable and it certainly cannot be taken up by any type of doubt.

 

The most important aspect of a start-up is the atmosphere. It’s an exciting time even if you’re working from a few desks in an office basement. Keeping the above job aspects in mind, you’ll be able to adjust to your new job quickly – just be prepared not to settle into any type of routine too quickly.

 

Succeeding as a First-Time Manager

pepper rutland_managementManagement is a natural progression for anyone who loves his or her job and has a knack for leadership. However, great managers are not born or developed overnight; even with a world of experience, knowing how to bring out and/or nurture the same skills in others is something that takes time and personal development. Here are some tips to help you prepare for your first management role.

 

  1. Learn The Business
    There’s a major difference between knowing what the company does and how the company works. You may have some base-level knowledge of how things happen in the company, especially If you’re being promoted into a new role within the same organization, but as a manager, you must also consider the business side of things. That means, the company’s financials, procedures, bureaucracy and how your position, department and subordinates fit into that puzzle.
  2. Ask Questions
    Which brings us to our next major tip: ask questions. This is probably the best but most overlooked part of managing. After all, you’re expected to know everything, right? Wrong. Don’t be afraid to admit blind spots. They’re okay as long you’re making an effort to improve on them. This is particularly helpful for people transitioning to a new company altogether.
  3. Lead By Example
    People will look to you for guidance on how to respond to problems and how to react in times of uncertainty. Make sure you’re sending the right message to your team at all times, and creating a relationship in which they trust your choices and are willing to heed your advice and direction.
  4. Be Yourself
    Your management style or approach doesn’t have to be like someone else’s, nor should you wait for directives on how to get things done. If you have a good idea, take initiative, try things out, and learn whether it works or how you can do things better going forward. This is how you improve.
  5. Be Easy on Yourself
    This cannot be overstated. No one is perfect. In working to get there, show yourself mercy and allow room for mistakes. Doing anything for the first-time is not likely to be easy, but challenges are necessary. Balance the bad with the good, and when criticizing yourself, highlight both. You may find that you’re doing better than you think.

4 Common Management Mistakes And How To Fix Them

man-people-space-desk-largePoor management skills can have a negative effect on an entire company. Employees who work under a bad manager will be unhappy and may leave the company. In fact, one out of two professionals surveyed for Gallup’s 2015 State of the American Manager Report stated that they have quit a job at some point in order to “get away” from their boss.

If a company has a strong leader, this can lead to a higher morale and more productive employees. It is important for a manager to create a positive working environment and to lead by example.

Here are four common mistakes that are examples of bad management, followed by solutions to these issues.

 

1) Failing to recognize employees’ strengths

Employees don’t feel valued when they are not recognized for their accomplishments. Some managers criticize their employees for their shortcomings and never praise them for what they are doing right. A September 2015 Achievers survey found that 57 percent of the 397 respondents did not feel recognized for their progress in the workplace. In order to be a good manager, let employees know that they are valued. Have consistent and open communication in which employees receive constructive feedback. A manager should help an employee to improve their weaknesses while celebrating each employee’s strengths.

2) Holding meetings that are not engaging or productive

Meetings are typically considered a hassle for the staff. Employees have to drop their projects and instead share information and opinions with others. This can scatter their focus and lead to a decrease in productivity. One way to fix this is to identify which employees need to attend a meeting and which ones can continue to work on tasks. Once you know who will be attending, brief these employees with a meeting schedule. This way, they can be better prepared and you can stay more on track. When the meeting gets off-topic, bring everyone back to the goal of the meeting. Ask for feedback at the end of the meeting.

 

3) Instilling fear in employees

Bad managers can threaten the job security of their employees. When employees are worried about getting laid off, their morale is reduced, decreasing the respect and trust that employees feel toward the manager. Some ways that managers instill fear include assigning blame, withholding information, and giving vague, noncommittal answers to questions. They create a persona that is unapproachable and they don’t show compassion. To avoid being this type of manager, create an environment centered on trust and honesty. Remain transparent by sharing pertinent company information with employees. Do not blame others. Instead, take responsibility, and transform failures into opportunities for growth.

 

4) Creating a negative working environment

The previously mentioned habits can lead to a negative working environment. Employees do not work as well when they are suffering from stress and anxiety. If there is a lack of managerial presence or if policies are inconsistent, the workplace can become filled with negatively. To keep these positive, be “present”, treat everyone fairly, and keep policies consistent. Show your employees that you view them as equals, regardless of their level. Also make sure employees are comfortable discussing what they aren’t satisfied with.

The way a manager behaves can make or break a company. Keeping a positive work environment is crucial to the success of a company. Make sure you are a great manager and that your employees are satisfied.

Best Social Media Practices for Small Businesses

Pepper Rutland's photo of facebook and scrabble piecesBefore the 1990s, companies relied mostly on print and broadcast media, such as television and radio, to get the word out about their products, services and/or progress. Prior to those inventions, word of mouth and various guerilla tactics were the focus. Nevertheless, with the advent and subsequent ubiquity of the Internet, businesses saw the importance of getting online. Those who weren’t early adopters, relying still on the aforementioned tools to reach customers and supporters alike, learned quickly that “the net” could not be ignored. Today, more than half of small business have their own website. However, as trends continue to evolve beyond a mere home for your business, the need for web presence via social media has become just as, if not more, imperative to the success of business owners, especially smaller businesses. Yet, while most have at least taken steps to create a social profile, not many use it to their full advantage.

Nearly two years ago LinkedIn reported that 81% of small to medium business had some form of social media. Why the remaining 19% hasn’t caught up is a concern in itself, but that’s not the primary issue at hand. Of those which do have a profile, approximately 95%, virtually all, of them use it for marketing reasons alone. While this makes sense given the wide reach of such platforms at little to no cost, simply using the space to announce deals, sales or new products is akin to handing out flyers on the corner. You may reach a lot of people, but it doesn’t guarantee connection nor interest. Therefore, creating a strategy for engaging your social media audience is key. Here are tips for doing so.

1. Create Quality Content

Consumers are exposed to about 5,000 ads per day, in comparison to 2,000 in the same time, just 40 years ago. The oversaturation and overpopulation of advertisements have led many to either tune them out or block them altogether. That said, using your business profile to do just that creates an automatic division between yourself and the client/customer you’re trying to reach. Instead, create and publish content that is informative and relevant to your product or service. As a result, your business comes across as an authority on related subjects, and appears to onlookers as a brand that is interested in its customers, not just selling to them.

2. Interact With Followers

Use social media to be social. Just as it would be rude to only talk about oneself and never respond to any questions, comments or inquires, in-person, the same applies online. Perhaps there is no dedicated social media person on staff, thus making it difficult to respond to every single interaction; however, merely acknowledging the message goes a long way. Such can be done with a simple like or share on many social platforms. And when it makes sense to do so, follow back.

3. Use Analytics Tools

The larger and more popular websites provide very specific and helpful data, including how many people viewed a post as well as liked and/ or shared it. Not only do these details provide insight about the value of your content to your audience, they can provide key information about how many people you’re actually reaching and optimal times for doing so.

4. Be Channel Specific

As the old saying goes, there’s a time and place for everything. Each business owner or dedicated social media specialist would do well to note best practices of each platform. For example, content on Twitter must be shorter, to the point, and use of hashtags bolster the length of your reach. On Facebook, content can be a little longer, more in depth and media heavy. Hashtags are not as effective, though available, and click through content, such as a link to an external website or presentation, are normal. Using a cookie-cutter approach to all platforms only diminish the effectiveness of your message and goals online.

As we enter this new year, there is an even greater incentive to try new things. With over 2 billion users on social media, an incredible opportunity exists for all businesses to not only acquire new customers but to retain them. Regardless of your product or service, your audience is online. Your competition will certainly be doing all they can to reach them. Beat them to the punch.