Moving from corporation to startup

From Silicon Valley to the Silicon Roundabout via Silicon Allee, nearly every major economic power has a burgeoning tech scene. 

Some, like the area around Shoreditch in London, sit in the shadow of long established industries such as the financial powerhouse that is London. 

The workers who inhabit the skyscrapers of Liverpool Street would do well to look out of their windows and down at the vibrant tech scene around Old Street roundabout and seriously consider carving out a new career and future there.

The London tech scene is bursting with creativity and opportunity. New companies are springing up daily and others are rapidly expanding. These companies need talented and innovative people to drive their growth. Alumni of large corporations often possess skill-sets which would be coveted in startups.   

Start-ups frequently lack experience in specialist areas removed from the core business. Lawyers specialising in financial compliance, for example, are a great asset to a mobile payment company struggling with complex compliance rules. Equally, bankers can find that their insider knowledge of the financial sector is an excellent fit for a FinTech startup. 

If you are being worn-down by the bureaucracy of the corporate you work for, the action-orientated, debate-light approach of many start-ups will be an attractive proposition. 

In many start-ups proactive employees and creative thinkers are rewarded and encouraged. In general, each employee in a startup must take on a wide range of responsibilities and make an active contribution to the success of the business. 

Not only can this add to work satisfaction, it has the benefit of letting employees develop a much more diverse set of skills.

Startups also aim to be as lean as possible, looking to tie up minimal resources and capital. Therefore, the working environment tends to be fast-paced and exciting and they are also generally made up of close-knit teams, free from overbearing management structures. Instead, they are energised by the enthusiasm of employees that genuinely want to be there.

If the freedom, creativity and culture of a start-up is appealing, bear in mind that, as with every new job proposition, there are pros and cons. When working at a start-up, flexibility and a willingness to adapt to change is essential.

If the thought of stepping outside of your comfort zone scares you, a start-up will not suit. Strong opinions are also crucial. Start-ups are not the place for conformists who would prefer that their preconceptions remain unchallenged. 

Working in a tight-knit team also means that it is important to be easy to get along with and hard working – there is nowhere to hide. Finally, long hours are not unique to corporations or professional services, many start-ups are not bound by conventional working hours. All-nighters to support an important product launch are commonplace and a degree of international travel is often the norm.

If the thought of a startup is still appealing, consider what type of company you could provide the most value to. After all, the tech segment that you are suited to may not be as intuitive as, say, a banker working in FinTech. 

Whether it is by leveraging your network or your creativity and ideas, you will be well placed to find a company that best matches your aspirations. When you find that company, move heaven and earth to land the job. Few careers will offer the reward and satisfaction of a startup.

Paul Jozefak is the co-Founder of Liquid Labs.

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