What I’ve learnt in my two years working in a start-up.
In March 2014 I took the plunge and left the corporate world to join a good friends’ start-up. I knew going into it that the business would do well as I had huge faith in the co-founders’ abilities to deliver — but if I’m totally honest, now looking back, I wasn’t totally sure of my own.
In the two years working for Hassle.com I’ve seen the company grow from a handful of people to over 50, helped launch the company in five cities across Europe and experienced two acquisitions. Over the course of this phenomenal growth story I’ve learnt a lot about myself, and my own abilities, here are some of the most important things I’ve learnt:
You can’t predict what’s going to happen just go with the flow. As someone who likes control, going from a very structured corporate environment to a startup where there are no rules and you get to write your own story was both petrifying and exciting at the same time. I’ve written many plans whilst at Hassle.com and honestly have completed at best 50% of all of them — but I’m ok with that. I’ve learnt that you need to balance being proactive with being agile and able to react to every-changing business priorities. You can bring structure to chaos without needing to know exactly everything that you need to do along the way!
You have to empower your team in order to grow quickly. You can’t do everything — obvious but sometime so easily forgotten when you’re running at 90 miles per hour. When you work in a start-up you become a jack of all trades, learning when to delegate tasks so you can take on the next thing not only benefits you but also your team. This is a hard and important lesson that I’ve learnt — but seeing your direct reports develop, grow and shape their teams is a massively rewarding experience.
Get used to faking it as most people are AND ask for help when you’re genuinely stuck. I don’t like people that are fake and I’ve personally struggled with feeling like a fraud from time to time and worried that people will think I don’t know what I’m talking about. What’s changed? Well nothing I still feel like a fraud from time to time but I’ve learnt to live with it and I’m more confident in my own strengths and weaknesses. I still don’t know all the answers to all the questions I get, but I’ll have a good go and if I don’t know then I’ll ask someone who does.
Make time to reflect on what you’re learning. There are some days where I come home and seriously feel like I’ve been hit with a train, not physically but mentally. It’s these days that I’ve learnt to appreciate, as hard as it can be sometimes, as it’s these days where I know I’ve been stretched and taken a step outside of my comfort zone. I’m proud of what I’ve learnt at Hassle.com to date, but what’s more exciting is that I know there’s more to come.
Don’t take everything too seriously — have fun along the way. Our CEO calls me ‘Miss Serious’ — and at times running the Operations at Hassle.com I need to be the get down to business “let’s just get this shit done” kind of person. But working with such a fun dynamic bag of miss-fits as the Hassle.com family are it’s hard not to have a good laugh each day — whether it’s the ops team doing the conga through HQ, Friday Beers or one of our classic team nights out!
But the most important lesson that I’ve learnt is that people are what make the difference between a mediocre and a great start-up — you can have the best product or service out there but it’s the team who make all the difference. Thanks to all the Hassle.com team who have helped me on my journey so far — here’s to seeing what 2016 brings!