3 Necessary Skills When Working at a Start-Up

4 months into my job at MicroMetrics, and it’s safe to say that I still don’t know what I’m doing (Joking, I think).

What I do know is that the start-up environment is unlike any place I’ve ever worked at in my entire life.

There are probably a lot of reasons why MicroMetrics, and other start-ups, are so unique when being compared to traditional office jobs; The free-flowing communication, the flattened organizational structure, the office dog, just to name a few. So there are a few skills or traits that a person should possess when working in a similar environment. The three that I’ve seen to be an absolute necessity?

Flexibility. Initiative. Assertiveness.

It’s nice to have these skills but to be able to apply them properly will make an employee’s life a lot easier working at a start-up. I’m going to dive into my personal experience and how these skills have made a difference in not only my quality of work, but as well as creating a lasting impact in the office and how things operate.

Flexibility: A Willingness to Learn

Unfamiliarity is a very intimidating concept. Not knowing what challenge lies ahead when you’d rather be prepared is what you can expect almost every week at MicroMetrics.

That’s practically what working at a start-up can be like. Your position and title is not a full job description due to the fact that there will be times where other departments will need your help. And you might not know a single thing about sales or customer relations management.

But that’s exactly it. You don’t need to be knowledgeable in any of it. You need to have trust the skills you do posses and be eager to take on the challenge. In doing so, you’ll learn about an entirely new side of the business and be able to broaden your skillset.

Through my term at MicroMetrics, I don’t think I could count the amount of tasks I’ve had to do outside of my job. But bending over backwards and being a little uncomfortable has allowed me to explore different fields and help the company when they’ve been short of hands. Flexibility is and goes a long way, especially for a companies that don’t have the numbers to match the workload.

Initiative: Just Do It.

Ok, this probably is starting a bit misleading. I’m not telling anyone to go and make material financial decisions without permission. I’m talking about not waiting for the boss to come around and give you tasks. Finding a way to contribute when you can and with little guidance from management.

The fact of the matter is, there are going to be times where the amount work you have is minimal. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to browse Reddit for the rest of your day. It means its time to go and figure out how you can contribute positively to the company.

One of the things that I’ve noticed at MicroMetrics is that opportunity is everywhere. Whether it be in the already existing business practices or implementing new ones, I am consistently looking for ways to improve how we operate day-to-day. This initiative that is being taken is not only productive but can create net positives for the company that they were unaware of before. Start-ups are raw in nature, and still have a long way to go. Going the extra mile can make a difference to a business that is in need of constant improvement.

Assertiveness: Believe in Yourself

I think everyone gets intimidated when dealing with a manager or a supervisor. They’re the ones that will determine whether or not you work the next day. It’s pretty understandable to want to play it safe and go with what you’ve been told. That being said, they’re not always right and there are also always looking for new ideas on how to improve.

Assertiveness is a matter of believing in your ideas and being confident that they will contribute to the company. It’s not being afraid to bring up your ideas or back down on them when speaking with managers.

I think start-ups appreciate the ability to bring in new ideas. They also appreciate people who realize that there is a shallow organizational structure in the business, so that everyone’s ideas are as valuable as one another. Your ideas can make huge difference in how things operate and it’s just a matter of not letting yourself get backed down by the higher ups. With strong points and a lot of belief, you could really make a difference at the start-up.

Coming from personal experience, I’ve felt that I’ve been able to develop these skills to a point where I feel very comfortable in the office and amongst my colleagues. The start-up world is raw, it’s unorganized, it’s the unknown. But with these skills, it could make things a little bit easier along the way.