What is a startup? The term startup generally refers to a company in its early stage of operations that aims toward innovation, development, advancement of new services, process and products, primarily driven by technology or intellectual properties. A startup can be as small as a team of two entrepreneurs (sometimes even one) searching for an idea or a solution to a problem, as long as their goal is to bring positive change or improvement. Innovation is the key for a company to qualify as a startup, which explains why most startups are associated with technology.
Startup culture is booming in Vancouver – believe it or not, Vancouver is actually one of the world’s leading startup hubs. Hootsuite, Slack, and Avigilon are some examples of successful startups that originated in Vancouver. Vancouver also features many startup schools aimed to help people launch their startups, such as Spring and Launch Academy. Interested to launch your own startup? These schools are a good place to start.
Being a part of a startup is a totally different experience from working in a "normal" company. Here's a breakdown of life in a startup:
1. Passion. The most important thing about being a part of any startup is passion. You have to be passionate about what you do, what the startup does, and what the startup is hoping to achieve. You are not there to perform your duties and get paid. You are there because you love the work, believe in the vision, and would like to make an impact. Now, this doesn't mean salary is not important - it's just that your passion comes first, salary comes second.
2. Driven. You are not afraid of rejections and failures. You will not be easily deterred or discouraged due to negative responses and feedback. This is especially important in a startup environment since startups will often go through many, many bumps before finally starting to head down the road to success. Yes, it's going to hurt. However, you will need to be driven to keep fighting towards the goal.
3. Be flexible, be like water. This is an essential skill to have to survive in a startup environment. A startup's goal may change completely within a few days. A startup could head in one direction this month and restart over and now head in the other direction next month. It is very likely that you might focus on task A this week and switch to task B the next week. Adapt or die - this saying fits quite perfectly in a startup environment.
4. Take charge. In a startup environment, there is absolutely no place for free riding. Every single person in the team will be vital to the success of a startup. You will need to take full control of your portion and be responsible and mindful of how your work impacts everyone else. Picture yourself as a rock star on stage. Your time is now; step up and own it.
5. Be open. Get ready to be bombarded with new ideas that you've never thought of before. In a dynamic startup environment where everything is changing all the time, you are expected to be able to digest new opinions like drinking water. It is incredibly important to be accepting and be open to new advice, new suggestions, and feedback, and adjust accordingly.
6. Teamwork. This is perhaps one of the most different things about startup and a "normal" company. In a startup, you are not just an employee. You are a team member of a tightly knit team whose members encourage and show support for one another. You will have your own work to do individually, but in the end, everything is pieced together like a giant puzzle piece. You will have to learn to communicate with your team and really just be a part of it.
Interested to know more about startups? Want to know more about startups’ dynamic work environment? Here are a few tips to help you get started:
1. Join startup conferences & meetups. There are tons happening in Vancouver. If you can’t find any, you might want to check to see if your wifi is working properly. Or, try searching it on Google.
2. Check out startup schools. These schools generally offer free events and information session.
3. Ask around. Don’t be shy, just do it. Ask everyone – your professors, your friends, your colleagues, your family, or even your neighbours! You never know! However, I would suggest getting to know your neighbours first before asking though.
“It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen.” - Scott Belsky