12 Things To Know To Succeed In Startups
Here’s a question for all you tech folks.
If you had to make a list of the essential things to know to break into the tech industry, what would be on that list?
I asked myself the same question when tasked with designing a training bootcamp for Future Startup Now, a talent initiative led by the Mayor of London, Create Jobs and Hustle Crew to help under-25s from underrepresented backgrounds break into tech.
I settled on the 12 learning objectives below and share them here to help inspire you wherever you may be in your tech journey: just starting out, hoping to break in, or even designing educational tools.
1. The different industries, verticals and business models within tech.
I wouldn’t say you need exhaustive knowledge of the world’s fastest growing industry but a macro overview will help you understand the types of challenges the startup you hope to join may be facing.
2. How to start a startup and launch a product.
There’s no better way to succeed as an individual contributor than to understand the origin story of your startup and the hurdles leadership had to overcome to make the company survive.
3. The typical teams you may find in a startup: roles and responsibilities.
Unlike more traditional industries, tech has roles you probably have never heard of before like Customer Success Director and Software Evangelist. Mapping out titles and what they do will help you find the right fit.
4. The skills needed in different roles, and how they transfer to other areas.
In many startups employees operate like mini-CEOs, autonomous in their own domains. Understanding how skills transfer from one area to another will help you adapt and grow within a startup as it scales.
5. Why and how startups scale.
A startup is distinguished from an SME by its market-dominating ambitions and the pace at which it scales. Exploring the make-or-break philosophy that drives most tech founders will help you understand the pace of work.
6. Understanding customers and growth methods e.g. business development.
Startups rely on serving their customers and/or users effectively to survive. Understanding the dynamics of growth is an essential for startup employees regardless of your role.
7. Understanding relationship management e.g. customer success.
Startups live or die based on metrics like lifetime value and churn. Understanding the mechanics that retain customers means you understand how to keep the money coming in to keep moving forward.
8. Mindsets: mental frameworks to deal with an unpredictable future.
Startup life is a rollercoaster. If you don’t possess a resilience toolkit you are at risk of burning out quickly. Developing your self-awareness will enable you to be kind to yourself and others. You’ll be a real team player even in adversity.
9. Ways of working: methodologies, models e.g. agile.
Get ready to spend a lot of time with engineers. Understanding how tech products are designed and built will give you a strong foundation to succeed even if your role feels far removed from product development.
10. Design frameworks: principles of design e.g. human centred design.
It’s all about design in the startup world, but maybe not as you know it. Graphic design is one part, but product design is all about getting into the mind of the users to build a perfect solution for them.
11. Culture and values: what they mean, why they matter.
As startups mature culture becomes an essential ingredient for success. It’s a way to attract and retain talent and avoid losing market share to competition. On a personal level, culture helps you understand a startup’s view of the world. And — crucially — whether it aligns with yours.
12. Community: the value for companies internally and externally.
Community can feel like a loaded word which is often misused. Understanding how a startup’s stakeholders drive the business forward is a valuable skill for any aspiring operator or founder.
What would you add to the list? Tell me in the comments.