Quick 📸 before hopping on our YC interview in November 2021

What Does It (Really) Mean To Work For An Early-Stage Startup

I originally wrote this piece for our career pages at Talkbase to set expectations and shine the light on the early-stage grind. All opinions are my own.

Startups are, well… anything and everything. 😄 Working in an early-stage company can be a life-changing experience for someone who wants to be a part of a super-fast environment or even start their own company one day. But it can be a nightmare for others too.

But really — what’s it like to work for a startup? I get asked this question a lot. So to help set expectations for our future teammates, and maybe other future founders, here are my observations since we started building Talkbase (and working in 4 startups before that).

We are all builders 👷

Having a builders’ mindset is one of the most important characteristics of an early-stage team. You will constantly build things, launch programs, think of a smart way to get to your next user, feature, or hire. Which is exciting. And it also means that you start from the ground up. When you join an early-stage company, you literally open your Notion, Asana, Jira (if you even have a collaboration space), and your start from 0. You have about a million ways how to get from 0 to 1 and you have to figure out the best way to get that fast. You will do a lot of building, rebuilding, launching, relaunch, project-scratching, and cursing. It’s all part of it.

We all have 💯 ownership

This brings me to my second point — when starting and building a company you are the only one responsible for the work you do. The company is 100% dependent on you and needs you to survive. Metaphorically and literally. Which is amazing. Every line of code, every interview, every campaign you launch had a massive impact on the future of the startup. As one great uncle, Ben said — with great power… This means that you make all the decisions on your work. The deadline, the quality, how to collect feedback, and how to iterate if necessary. I’ve noticed that this can be a tricky point for a lot of folks as having somebody else responsible for your performance, scoping your work, or giving you tasks is the usual way companies work. Luckily, you have your team by your side and have somebody to talk to if needed.

We have limited resources 🙊

Time. Money. People. To build successfully you have to make smart decisions, fast, and most of the time, on your own. Easy peasy.

When joining a startup, don’t expect complex budget tables and planty of time to execute massive projects. Often times there are no budgets. Instead, we try to be lean and learn as much as we can, in a limited time. This leads me to the next one:

You will make mistakes, we hope! 🎉

Making mistakes = learning. It’s the most important part of the journey. When you are building something from the ground up the easiest way to learn is either to succeed or fail. There is nothing in between. Therefore a lot of the things you work on can bring great value, or become a great learning opportunity and help us understand we need to take another route.

💩's on 🔥 all the time

Having multiple burning priorities at once is the norm in startups. Your job will be to listen to your experience, our values, your gut, our users, the team, and with a bit of wishful thinking execute on the highest priority there is. This can be a shock for a lot of people. It can be demanding but I am sure you won’t ever get bored. What I’ve noticed is that if there are multiple 🔥 at once, it means we have multiple opportunities for growth ahead of us. So saying laser focus on the high-value opportunities had helped me to make the best decision so far.

We will make something beautiful, together 💗

That’s right. If you are a true builder, there is no better feeling than closing your laptop at the end of the day and knowing you have created something amazing. A product that makes lives easier. A process that streamlines growth. Content that educates others. What I’ve learned about builders is this — they love the journey, not the destination.

If you love the journey too, join us!

We're looking for frontend engineers, people & ops lead, product owner, and more. Ping me at klara@talkbase.io 👋

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#girlintech | twitter @klaralosert

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Klára Losert

Klára Losert

#girlintech | twitter @klaralosert

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