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Ankit Kumar
Ankit Kumar

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Things I loved about working with Startups

My team working at office

I was working as an Android Developer in Bangalore based Startups for the first 5 years of my career.

Before my first job, I was extremely excited and scared about going to office.

Excited about being an adult (though I was still not allowed to buy alcohol) and scared about making mistakes because after all, I was an amateur developer with no professional training. But things turned out to be great which lead me to write this article. Let me take you on a ride to the startup villa!

A unique growth opportunity
The best candidates aren’t solely motivated by salary. They are often motivated by the opportunity to learn, grow and be challenged. Startups put their best employees in a position where they can succeed, develop new skills and do things they wouldn’t have the opportunity to do elsewhere. For example, at a startup you can pitch the ability to have an impact on multiple parts of the business and grow with the company.

The ability to get the most out of limited resources
One thing that startup offer sales commissions to their hires who bring new business opportunities to your company. This is a nice way to allow hires to turbocharge their earnings, plus it helps them learn business, feel like part of the team, and get them talking about business. You can also do the same type of thing and offer your hires a finder’s fee for bringing in new talent. This can ultimately come out cheaper than hiring recruiting firms and it gets you a new team member who already has some familiarity with your current employees.

The ability to learn
While startup perks (snacks, ping pong, etc.) can be compelling, the best way to get and retain employees is to give them an experience they can’t get elsewhere. Big companies can offer employees lots of money, lots of perks, and in some cases, lots of equity. A startup’s advantage is that their employees have responsibility, room to grow and the ability to learn new things. By all means you should offer a salary and equity package that’s good enough, but you need to play off your strengths in your ability to help your employees learn and grow.

Diverse responsibilities
Part from salary the ability to work in diverse roles is a major motivating factor in a startup is the opportunity to do work that helps you master a variety of transferable skills, or skills that are relevant across roles and industries. In one year at a startup, for example, you might get experience in project management, client relations, sales, marketing and finance. A large company might pay you more, but chances are you’ll be pigeonholed in only one of these areas and your professional development will be exponentially slower.

Added value and appreciation
People rarely make decisions based solely on money, and that includes deciding where to work. Loving what you do, feeling appreciated and valued, and knowing you are making a difference are among the top reasons people choose a job. Creating a unique company culture that embodies respect, honesty and charity will create more loyal employees than a company that simply shells out cash. Small companies might want to include employees in creative brainstorming sessions or organize staff outings to a local charity. Offering unique logistical benefits like “create your own hours” or “work from home” might also be of value to some employees.

Control over their role
What individuals crave more than money or status is control of their own destiny, something that many Fortune 500 companies can’t offer. Offering employees control over how their job is executed and what their growth pattern looks like is a huge advantage. If someone feels like they can work from home one day a week and be just as productive, give them that ability. If it doesn’t work it will be evident to both you and the employee simultaneously. Empowering employees with control will gain you loyalty and appreciation that might be harder to achieve at larger, more corporate organizations.

A revolving door policy
Since equity and company culture are popular ideas already, I think you should allow your future, would-be employees to choose. No other startup environment would say to employees: “If you get sick of being here, it’s OK to leave.” This shows them that you are aware of your own company’s standing and are not looking to keep people from fulfilling their greatest potential elsewhere. For a small company, that’s very admirable.

In the Indian Silicon Valley, it’s easy to get caught up in the game of high salaries and sexy things like free food, ping pong and wacky chairs. We forget what most people need: flexibility, or the ability for people to do their work on their own schedule and build a flow that fits with their families, friends and activities. If you can master that, you’ll never have to ask the question, “What will it take to make you stay?”

Stock options and room to grow
The salary game is something very few young companies can compete in. Startup companies ensure that every member of team truly feels like an owner. They start by giving every employee some sort of stock option. Combine that with a great culture where employees know their voice is heard, no matter what their title is, and letting them grow in their role as the company does. At large companies it can take 20, 30 or even 40 years to work your way to the top. With the fast-paced environment of a startup, employees can catapult themselves to the top if they spend time learning, growing and adding value to the company.

A stable culture
The one indispensable quality that can be defined is the culture. I believe a company’s culture starts with the employees who make up the workforce. Before hiring anyone, I ensure that the individual will be a a great addition. These are the people that you spend most of your time with, so it is important to want to be around them. Startups want my employees to want to come to work and hang out with their friends, not just see them as coworkers.

An interesting, challenging environment
It’s a known fact that people look for more than money in a job. Most people in IT industry nowadays are ambitious and eager to develop new skills. Startups try to keep things interesting and challenge people. Explain to candidates what they’ll learn while at your company. If that isn’t enough to sell someone, then you have a bigger problem or the candidate isn’t a right fit.

Trust and a voice
Trust in the workplace is much more powerful than most people know. If you trust your employees and ask for their opinions on important business issues they will feel valued and important. In our office we ask for each employee’s feedback on various business decisions such as taking on new clients, hiring new employees, new business ideas and big expenses. The feeling that employees get when their opinion is heard and taken into account is more valuable than any perk or benefit you can offer them. People are the most important aspect of your business and you should continually ensure they know that. Once the employee has trust in the company to voice their thoughts and opinions freely, they will be committed to the organization way past the monetary benefits.

A share of the profits
Profit sharing allows all employees to participate in and be motivated by the success of your company. Most employees are more driven to succeed when they know that they will directly benefit from the contributions they make, not just in keeping their job. They are invested in experiencing their own success in a monetary way.


Top comments (1)

jfrankcarr profile image
Frank Carr

I'd guess not having to deal with 10+ years of legacy code would be a plus too.