Climbing up the job ladder by traversing between companies is no longer uncommon. As a result, a lot of people have had the misfortune of being in a couple of dud jobs. Ask anyone who has worked in a start-up, and they’ll tell you, for better or for worse, richer or poorer, it was anything but a dud job. I joined a startup – YellowDog – in October 2015 and in just a few months had seen it commercially launch its lead product, pitch at St James’ Palace to the Duke of York and a whole host of other VIPs, named as a finalist in two awards, and attend SXSW in Austin, Texas. Exciting events, awards, press releases, or achievements do not directly demonstrate success; they are indications of a larger vision at work in its early stages – a picture that cannot be condensed into a single blog or conversation. That picture should be big enough to persistently keep boredom at bay.
SXSW Interactive 2016 – Trends, Thoughts and Randomness
Start-ups are often hives of talent but they are vulnerable too. Their success is determined by the communities on which they can turn to for support. Microbusiness communities are brimming with brilliantly talented, interesting, motivated people undaunted by the prospect of failure; they’re too busy thinking about how they are going to change the world. Imagine going to make a coffee in the office kitchen and speaking to someone who believed they were working on a diagnostic technique that would save thousands of lives. That happens. Coffee breaks become ‘Inspire Me Sessions’ some business managers would pay thousands of pound for.
Statistically, startopian careers should stall or collapse in line with the much accepted fact that the 85% of new businesses fail within the first 18 months.
Statistics don’t tell the full story.
People who join startups or found new businesses are projected into a land of opportunity.
There are those gems of companies that started out with a laptop in an attic and years later were sold for hundreds of millions of pounds, but what about the rest – the other 95% – the ones that didn’t make a feature column in Forbes?
The ability to manage risk, pressure, and deliver results all in the face of potential failure are the desirably rare skills in startopians that matter.
The core values of a startup can be communicated by the CEO over a shared cereal bar instead of an anodyne voice conference. Everyone is as close to the top of the business as one another, (almost) and they can change the entire business environment before morning porridge… and then change it back again before the afternoon coffee break if they feel like it. Everyone must be trusted by the business because there is no room for mediocrity; in return everyone is, in effect, trusted with the success or failure of the business. Pressure? Not necessarily. In a job at a large company several years ago, I was told to send an email but first had to send it for edit checks to remote line managers across three disparate departments before it could be filed as an email template which could then be subsequently edited where appropriate. I was not trusted. I lost the motivation to get things right and felt pressure irrespective of my apathy. I quit that job. When trusted wholly, apathy disappears.
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