Life at a start-up can look different every single day, and that is no different at Backr. In this blog, I will walk you through the highs, lows, and everything in-between throughout my time at Backr!
Written by Justin Patterson
Everyone has heard all the many benefits of not just starting your own company but also joining an early-stage start-up. You get to escape the 9–5, work with like-minded individuals, and actually make an impact. However, we also all hear the cons of the start-up life: long hours, the potential of the company failing, and the initial pay cut.
I am here to give you the cold hard truth of what it is like to work at an early-stage start-up, with all the pros and cons that you can handle. Having only worked at Backr for 4 months, you may be thinking, “how can this guy tell us what it's truly like?” Well, unsurprisingly, when you work at a start-up you get thrown into the fire early, so I can say, with confidence, I have experienced every single one since joining the team.
If you’re thinking of taking the plunge of either creating or joining a start-up, you are in the right place. I hope by the end of this blog you will understand the many pros and the occasional con that comes with the start-up life and from there, you will be slightly more prepared in making your decision.
I want to start off by saying a reminder: I am on the business development and marketing side of Backr, and not the technical development team (this is where the engineers, do engineering things).
What do I do?
My day always starts with a meeting with one of the founders of the company. These quick meetings are to not only talk about our goals for the day related to the business but to just talk about how life is going.
Now I can’t promise that whatever start-up you join will have such caring founders, but I can promise that you will get exposure to discuss your ideas and work with important people within the company (especially true at an early-stage start-up).
Aside from these daily meetings, it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly I will be doing on any given week. Writing blogs, generating leads, creating Instagram posts, reaching out to content creators to interview, are just a handful of things I have done since arriving on the team.
The biggest thing I’ve learned that helps to stay in control of all these different tasks and projects that come with working at a start-up is prioritizing. As basic as it may be, having a to-do list is the single most important thing you can do to stay on top of your week. At the start of each day, go through your day and what you want to accomplish, big or small. Not only does this keep you organized, but it gives you a big burst of serotonin when you cross off a task that you complete.
Another important tip to remember is to set a schedule. Especially in a world where working remotely is becoming the norm. It becomes very easy to go off the path when it comes to a daily routine. Some days you may work diligently from morning till night, and others you may watch a show during the work day or decide working out is a better idea than finishing work early. Structure is good, and as you can see, I did not have structure.
Set a schedule at the start of your week that outlines when you will start work and end work. This will allow you to not get sidetracked (as easily), as you will have set times to break, get going, and stop for the night.
The main pros of working for a start-up are, the freedom you have to express your ideas and handle the work you get in your own style, the ability to actually have a voice in the company, and the excitement of having no real idea of what next week will look like. No matter the department you work in, you will get the opportunity to wear many different hats and take on tasks that are outside of your comfort zone. For example, did I ever think I would be writing weekly blogs? Most likely not. But look at me now!
Another thing you can look forward to is the weekly social events that are inevitable at all start-ups! Whether that be a simple social over zoom to discuss your weekend plans or, when it is safe to hang out with people in person, going to sporting events, rooftop patios, etc. Company culture is everything for start-ups and you can be sure it will be a priority of there's to make you feel connected to the company as a whole.
Every start-up will be different, of course, and I say this because at Backr there are really not any true cons. Sure, there were times where I wished there was more structure to my tasks, however, as I mentioned earlier, you have a voice at start-ups. I simply voiced this desire and what do you know? The founders agreed and we came together to form a plan that addressed my problem.
Uncertainty, ambiguous tasks, and being left alone on certain projects are all realities of working in a start-up and should be things you are comfortable with before you make the leap.
The Bottom Line
When you make the jump to a start-up, especially an early-stage one, there’s no way to know what will happen. The business could not exist in a year for all you know. There also may be some new changes in your personal life, like working strange hours some weeks, for example. It can be easy for this unknown to scare or stress you out.
My advice at the end of the day is simple: take it day-by-day. Another key piece of wisdom is to talk to people who have gone through the start-up life, as well as read articles like this one. Digest all the information you can before deciding what to do. After all of that, you will have a clearer picture of what you are leaning towards. Remember, you know you best.
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Business development & marketing at Backr.