Jan
12
2012

4 Skills Every Startup Employee Needs

Startups are a bit different than your average company.  They often have smaller teams (maybe a dozen people, maybe two), less financial resources, and just as much (if not, more) work to be done.  And more often than not, they want to impact the world in a big way.

Therefore, a startup employee needs a slightly tweaked skill set to help the company achieve its goals.  Sitting around and just “getting your work done” isn’t going to cut it.  There are 4 skills I think every startup employee needs.

1. Deal with people

You’re going to interact with a ton of people when working at a startup, whether you’re a founder, a developer, a designer, a salesperson, whatever.  One minute you might be listening to an angry customer complaining about a broken part of the site and the next minute you might be trying to sell to a new client.

This means you need to know how to effectively communicate, both internally and externally.  This applies to both verbal communication and written communication.  Being patient with a customer on the phone is just as important as knowing how to write clear and concise emails.

Learn to deal with people.  It’s a must at any startup.

2. Solve problems

Being able to solve problems is a key skill everybody at a startup needs.  Technology can break, business deals will fall through, logistics can go haywire, etc.  And these problems aren’t unique to one area of a startup.  They will happen to everybody from development to customer service to management.

A startup employee needs to be able to think creatively to solve problems.  The catch is that a startup traditionally doesn’t have the financial resources that a larger corporation might, so solving a problem isn’t as simple as throwing money at it.

Be good at figuring out problems and you’ll go a long way in a startup.

3. Accept criticism

Not everybody is going to like your work.  With over 7 billion people on this planet, there are going to be more than a handful of people who don’t approve.  But that’s ok.  The key is to have a thick skin to accept criticism and learn from it.

Criticism can be a great tool for improving upon your work and your company’s product.  Criticism offers new perspectives on your work that you may not have considered or thought of otherwise.

When people criticize your work, acknowledge their ideas, thank them, and explore ways their advice could be applicable to what you’re doing.  Not all criticism will be, but it’s important to evaluate each time to see.

4. Wear many hats

As a startup employee, you’re going to work on many different areas of the business.  Since you’re part of a small team and there’s still a lot of work to do, this is natural.  They key is to be comfortable wearing many hats and not letting it distract you from doing good work.

Some people are really good at doing one thing and prefer to stick to that one thing.  Others enjoy flexing various skills and touching various parts of the business, from customer service to marketing to business development.  The latter type of person is going to feel more at home at a startup.


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