Can You Handle Working at a Startup?

Question: How can I determine if I have what it takes to work at a startup? What one quality do I need to have?

Question by: Rachel

Can You Roll With the Punches?

"Working at a startup means being comfortable with wearing many hats. Unlike bigger organizations, small companies require more flexibility and creativity. If you prefer to work in an environment where there are set positions and goals, then a larger company may be more appropriate. However, if you enjoy dynamic and constantly evolving experiences, then working at a startup could be a good fit!"

- Alexandra Mayzler | Founder and Director, Thinking Caps Tutoring

Endless Motivation

"It's hard to constantly be motivated on what you're working on. Sometimes you just want to take a long break or work on something else temporarily, but it's crucial to stay motivated. The more persistent you are, the greater the chance of success for your startup."


The Hunger to Learn

"If you are on your own, never stop learning. Use everything that happens to you as a learning experience. Use failure that occurs on your path to success as a case study to further improve your business. Continue to sharpen your skill sets and broaden your knowledge base. Never stop learning and never let someone tell you that something can’t be done or you can’t do it. Make things happen."

- Jay Khor | Managing Partner, Versutia_ LLC

Tolerance of Ambiguity

"When you're involved in starting a company, things change rapidly. What you're doing one day could be completely different the next. This is the biggest difference between startup and corporate culture. Expect to do things outside of your job description and move quickly."

- Nicholas Tart | Founder, 14Clicks

Love of the Circus

"A startup is like a traveling circus, where everyone has a specialty but everyone is also willing to do what needs to be done to get the show unloaded, running smoothly, and then packed up again at the end of the day. Being involved in a startup requires being equally willing to manage, code, consult or empty the trash cans. Be willing, and you'll be golden."


Where's Your Drive?

"To work at a startup, one needs to be driven, self-motivated and enthusiastic. This is something I state in all of my job descriptions (even for internships) because I believe each employee needs to have these qualities. It’s also important to have an entrepreneurial spirit and be an independent thinker -- these qualities get you far in the startup world!"

- Heather Huhman | Founder & President, Come Recommended

Ability to Get Things Done

"In a startup, the ability to get things done is the most important quality to have, often with a minimum of resources, funds, and limited information. Being able to push forward, make decisions independently, learn quickly from your mistakes and adapt to constantly changing circumstances and information are qualities that every CEO seeks out."

- Matt Mickiewicz | CEO & Co-Founder, Hired

Incredible Patience

"Things take time. A lot of time. Regardless of how fast you move, your customers and partners aren't nearly as invested in the business as you are. It's important to push as hard as you can, but if you can't deal with waiting, entrepreneurship will be a frustrating experience."

- David Adelman | Founder and CEO, ReelGenie
Unmatched Perseverance

"Perseverance is a word that summarizes exactly what it takes to be a startup entrepreneur. It means commitment to your company, hard work, patience, and having endurance. Startups are extremely hard and stressful, so if you don't have perseverance, it's going to be impossible for you to be successful."


Dedication Is Key

"Startup life is only for those with the right mixture of perseverance, initiative, resiliency, and vision. If you have a glamorized view that you’ll spend a few months building a website and then strike it rich, you’ll soon be handed a reality check. Be prepared for the fact that the hours are going to be long and your social life will be nonexistent for a while. Be ready to commit 100 percent."


True Grit

"You need to have passion. There is no specific DNA that makes up a specific role in a startup or to be an entrepreneur. If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, there shouldn’t be anything that can get in your way."


Teamwork Is a Must

"Every successful entrepreneur requires the ability to be a team player. You cannot do everything on your own, so make sure you are willing to share tasks or take on someone else's project. It will help you get through the long hours, and when you hit a goal, you do it as a team."

- Bobby Emamian | CEO, Co-Founder, Prolific Interactive

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC recently published #FixYoungAmerica: How to Rebuild Our Economy and Put Young Americans Back to Work (for Good), a book of 30+ proven solutions to help end youth unemployment.

About YEC

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>