Working for a start-up is hard work. You work hours that would
make an investment banker shudder, for a salary that would make
them think you'd missed a good few zeros off the end. There's no
protocol -the rules are being made up as you go along, then before
you know it you find everything you thought you knew has melted
quicker than a strawberry ice-cream in a Saharan sauna. Most things
don't go to plan, and progress more often than not takes at least
three times longer than you hoped for. This is not your standard
nine to five!
There are loads of plus sides to working for a start-up,
obviously - that's why all of us at Smarta are here doing it and
loving it! (Try an amazing sense of ownership, as much
responsibility and decision-making as you desire, share schemes,
flexibility, constant creative challenge, lack of red tape, an
endless waterfall of new ideas that get implemented in hours rather
than months, etc etc etc.)
But, inevitably, you will hit rough patches. People will start
getting snippy with each other - heck, sooner or later, you'll
start yelling at each other. Frustrations will simmer, toes will
get stepped on, and at least one of you will erupt more
unpredictably and violently than an Icelandic volcano.
If any of this sounds familiar, fear not. You're totally normal.
Working in a start-up team is a bit like being in a family. You
know you all love each other deep down - you've been through
massive highs and lows already, and you're kind of bonded to one
another, more so than you would be in any other type of company.
And, like when you have a rant at your parents of siblings, you
know it's just frustration being vented, not hatred of any type.
You don't mean any disrespect.
That said, you're not tied to your start-up co-workers by blood.
You don't have Christmas and long Sunday lunches as opportunities
to heal up the cuts caused by spur-of-the-moment angry words. Which
is why it's vital that you all make time for each other outside the
office as well as inside. It's all too easy at the end of a long
week to just want to go home and chill out with your old mates, but
sticking around for a few drinks with your co-workers will really
help the atmosphere when you get back in on Monday morning.
Everyone is in their non-work mode - you're all more relaxed,
there's no work stress souring the mood, and you can get on as
You remember why you all wanted to work together in the first
place. You see each other as people, not job roles. And you realise
that the missed deadline isn't quite as show-stopping as it seemed
at 11 am that morning. That you can still all work together,
appreciate each other's efforts and company, and work through
things. Like being in a family, you realise a bit of arguing is
healthy, providing you can all bounce back and start bouncing ideas
off each other merrily once the air has been cleared.
The moral of the story is: factor in a night once a week or
fortnight when you can all go out together, stick to it, and you'll
find your whole team functions like a family of great mates. Which
is healthy, productive, and great fun. Just as start-ups should