Starting a small business rarely maps to plan but it can be manageable.
Starting a new business or joining an early stage startup is as exciting and exhilarating as it is scary.
When they say it’s a rollercoaster ride they aren’t joking. Few times in your life when you will experience a faster-paced environment - things can go from 0 to 60 (and back) in the blink of an eye. Rarely does everything go according to plan.
Then again, if it were easy wouldn’t everyone do it?
It’s important to step back and be sure to take it all in. Easier said than done, I know. Sure you’ll make mistakes along the way, but the growth, development and learning you’ll experience will be second to none.
I made the leap from the corporate world to startup a little over a year and a half ago - it’s been a rollercoaster ride for sure but an experience I wouldn't trade for anything. But there’s a few tips I’ve learned along the way that have helped stay balanced (or try to) when things are uncertain. Let’s take a look!
1. Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Mentors
This is true regardless, but definitely recommended if you’re making your first foray into business ownership or a startup. A strong network of mentors is critical.
When you are heads down in the day-to-day it can be easy to develop tunnel vision. Having a close group of trusted mentors you can turn to when times are tough can really help you reset your perspective.
They can offer advice to help you reframe how you are looking at the situation, potential solutions or even introduce you to other folks who have gone through similar experiences.
Seek out that close group of mentors and don’t be afraid to turn to them!
2. Know When to Break and Recharge
It’s rare that there are ever moments of “downtime” in an early stage company. And when the road becomes a bit rocky, the natural inclination is to usually put in more time to try and course correct.
Unfortunately, you run the risk of putting yourself, and your team, at risk of burning out. Step back, take some time to recharge a bit. Work an additional trip to the gym into your schedule, go for a hike, catch up with friends you haven’t seen in awhile.
Anything to help clear your mind for a bit. You’ll often find this will make you far more productive and focused when you pick things back up.
3. Always Be Sharpening Your Tools
In an early stage company things will change.
Things will change rapidly. You may be hired in for a certain role, but wind up having to step in and help fill other areas of the business for a time. And when you have a lean team, there’s never a shortage of things to do. But don’t let this opportunity slip by.
Always be learning - whether it’s becoming familiar with new tools and technologies in the market, picking up new “hard” skills or even refining your sales techniques. You become more well rounded and position yourself as a critical asset to the company, and more marketable down the line if you explore new opportunities.
Next- Two more must know start up priorities
About the author
Dan heads up Market Engagement at Zinc, an enterprise startup transforming how we communicate in today's mobile workplace. Prior to Zinc, he spent four years at Deloitte as a strategy consultant where he helped clients in the public, private, and non-profit sectors transform their organizations through the use of digital technology. Dan graduated summa cum laude from Loyola University Maryland. Born and raised in New York, he recently returned and is now residing in Manhattan.Twitter LinkedIn