Contributor Jenna Bauer highlights three transferable skills that can help bridge the switch.
If you’ve spent your career at established companies, it’s hard to imagine working at a startup. Two years ago, I joined Micah Group, a local startup. With just six employees, it was a big change from the 1,300-employee, 125-year old company where I spent most of my career.
Search online and you’ll easily find differences between the two types of companies, but the commonalities are tougher to come by. So, here are a few examples of transferable skills and experience you can bring from an established company to a startup.
You Can Create Something Out of Nothing
Early in a company’s lifecycle, you’re often doing something for the very first time. Maybe it’s never been done at any company. Rarely is there a guide to follow or any history to work with.
In an established company, maybe you formed a new business unit, built a team, or opened a new office. You have an idea of what it’s like to create something from nothing.
Getting from zero to one requires resourcefulness and the ability to move forward without instructions. You can fill in the gaps, whether it’s seeking outside advice, researching alternatives, or socializing partial ideas along the way. At the same time, you don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis because you have a healthy relationship with iteration.
You Are Proactive About Learning
Every business faces constant change and unknown variables that force us to operate with incomplete information. Having a growth mindset is an easy way to put more variables in your control.
Are you someone who is constantly asking questions, digesting information, and learning from other people? You won’t find a library of educational programs at most startups, so it helps to be mindful about exhausting the resources you do have.
Proactive learners schedule time to learn from coworkers, subject matter experts, mentors, and people in their network. Gleaning lessons from the experience of others helps prevent you from reinventing the wheel. You try to accept every invitation, attend the optional meetings, and ask to be involved even when you weren’t invited. You know how to experiment with different ideas to reach the best solution, and you make progress by learning from your mistakes.
You Can Adapt to Growth
Startups inherently experience a lot of growth, whether it’s after a round of funding, taking on a big customer, or hiring en masse. For established companies, growth spurts can happen after an acquisition or adding a new business unit.
When growth is fast, things can quickly get chaotic. Companies attempt to combine disparate processes and personalities while maintaining business as usual. Very rarely does growth come without setbacks, and hasty decisions can end up hurting the company and culture.
Malleability is an ideal trait for handling rapid growth. You can leverage what you know, without being wedded to it. You can right-size your efforts without over-engineering. You are constantly reassessing because you know that you’ll learn more as time passes and conditions change.
In the end, resourcefulness, adaptability, and a growth mindset should benefit you no matter the organization. Your previous experience and what (you think) you know won’t always apply. But having the right mentality will.