Lessons Learned while Growing from 0 to 34 Employees Working All Over the World.
by Engineer Cristian Angel – Co-developer of oMelhorTrato.com, an Online Entrepreneurship focusing now in Latin America.
One of the most exciting places to work in is definitively the entrepreneurial world. It is common to experiment an extra adrenaline in the everyday work that it is difficult to feel in other work place.
In spite of this, it is better to make it clear that working in a startup is not for everyone, it should be in our genes and personality; one must accept the challenges of working in a changing environment with constant ups and downs.
In our experience in EMT, with more than 21.500.000 users internationally in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, México and Colombia, we learned some key lessons after interviewing over 260 candidates and eight years of work that we would like to share with you:
The first point in being a great candidate in a job interview, to enter a startup, is to demonstrate the capacity of being autonomous.
What I mean with autonomy is the capacity of being able to demonstrate that with our own hands we can find and implement a final and concrete solution.
When running a startup, in a normal context, what is needed is people who can provide solutions and not people that need to follow instruction.
As candidates, it is our task to show that we have sufficient autonomy and willingness to find solutions and implement them.
The best way to show this to the interviewer is to ask him to allow us to have a trial period in which we can, with an assignment to solve, show our ability and willingness to solve it.
If we see it from the other side of the desk, any startup is looking especially for candidates that can take responsibility for important tasks because in that way the founders can take care of other more urgent priorities, such as seeking investment, opening new markets or developing new products
2) Willingness to learn.
One of the most appreciated features for getting the job, within a new Startup, is the ability of learning new things every day.
Based on research developed by the Pew Research Center, those who achieve the best professional results are those who at least once every 6 months receive some kind of learning activity (course, lesson, lecture, video, book, podcast, etc). Today mostly online education.
This skill should be shown from the first moment. One of the best ways to transmit this capacity is telling a brief summary of all the courses we have taken or assisted to, however short or unknown they were.
Furthermore, it is important to talk about the conferences, trainings, programs carried out, guides or books that we have read. Besides we can talk about the ones that we are doing in the present and plus what we would like to do in the future.
In the case of a applying for a job in a major international company, the candidates who have much experiences in the past have certain advantages; on the other hand, when being candidates for a job in a startup, those who possess less experience but have a strong predisposition to learn every day something from scratch will have greater benefits.
If we put ourselves in the place of the startup owner, we will understand that the reason for the choice is well founded because of the constant improvisation necessary to survive and grow, which is why we work in this scenario.
Remember: “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.” — Albert Einstein
Today the only constant factor in the technological environment around us is change. Based on this fact, a fundamental pillar that any venture should have is the adaptability to survive and gain advantage over the rest of the companies in the market.
In line with the above points, the third factor to be a perfect candidate to work for a startup is flexibility.
This feature is defined by two horizons. The first one is the flexibility of being able to work in different places. We must provide the employee with the option of working from home, from an office and why not in the future to work abroad.
The second horizon is flexibility in security. The employees must be willing to obtain their paycheck for less money than the arranged salary; other times maybe they do not collect and in other cases they can bet on the company receiving participation.
It is clear that not everybody has these characteristics, but both as candidates and as owners of the startup we should be transparent from the first moment because the context calls for the features described above.
Extra: Own Project.
Finally, I would like to highlight a crucial aspect that we look for in entrepreneurs. If we are thinking about running for a position in a startup, it is essential to consider and present the “own projects”.
Own projects are those ideas that we have in our life and then we carry out by ourselves. It can include a small online application, any event organization or any initiative embodied by our hands at some point.
The aim is to show that we are able to realize ideas, persuading those around us and proactively implement them successfully.
Not everybody has this kind of ability as simple it may seem. It is one of the highlighted aspects that any enterprise looks for and we must expose them to get the job. A startup is a microenvironment in permanent contact with other external environments that is trying to change or improve some aspect. In this contact with the outside is where the ability to carry out own projects plays a fundamental role.
All is all, we can say that a factor common to all the features mentioned above –Autonomy, willingness to learn and flexibility—is “pro-activity”.
Proactivity can differentiate a good candidate for a startup from who is not. As we see it, a proactive person is one that voluntarily achieves objectives in life.
They are those people that we do not have to accompany and constantly “push” throughout life. Instead, just by showing them the ultimate goal we have, they will find the way sooner or later as how to turn it into success.
This kind of personality is what it is needed in a startup and it is where we can define ourselves as a viable option for a job vacancy. Personally, I can assure you that working in a startup is the best challenge we can face as professionals to improve our skills.