I've worked for a handful of companies, large ones like Inmarsat, which is a British satellite telecommunications company, medium ones like Play.com, and small ones like Media Ingenuity. The smallest company I have worked for, well tiny actually, was a start up. (That's of course if I don't include working for myself, which in this case, I haven't!!)
With me being the third employee to the company, and to the team it was quite an experience working for Eventiility - which during the course of my employment rebranded to be called Joinin.
Before I started I wasn't really sure what to be "aware of" if that makes sense. I knew it was a start up but what does that actually mean to a designer?
I read the job description and spoke to my boss (who happened to be a freelance client of mine before this point) and it was all really attractive - casual office, fun and relaxed environment, potential to advance really quickly, big pay off (with tiny small print about the company making it BIG), working from home, flexi-hours, potential stock options, variety of work, brand spanking new iMac.. gosh the list was endless.
There was so much excitement and enthusiasm it was hard to decline the offer, and so I didn't.
I was the "one man band" for everything design for the company.
As the journey began I noticed a few things, here are the most prominent ones as a designer....
1 | Change is your friend
I had to accept that as a designer the first "draft" of a design, or the first proposed design is just that. It's a draft, it's proposed. No design is ever going to get sign off straight away, there is always a process of "design -> feedback -> amend -> review". That process can seem endless sometimes and therefore it's important to embrace that change is your friend. The sooner I learnt to accept that, the happier my startup working life. That leads me to the second point.
2 | It's all go go go
As a designer it's great to be able to check out the design world and see what's going on on twitter or dribbble. But I had to have time for that. Being the be all and end all of things design means I was all hands on deck. I dove right in and got down to the nitty gritty. Although the job description said "X", trust me, I was doing "X, Y, Z, A, B and C".. and that was all at once as well.
3 | Learning on the job!
Variety is the spice of life, or so they say, right? Well seen as it's all "go go go" sometimes the learning curve is really steep. Because it's steep I ended up creating numerous designs for a variety of mediums. I was doing website designs for one thing, iPhone app designs for another, icon designs for part of the companys brand visuals, and creating media kits and reports too. I also lended a hand to front end coding some of the designs I was creating! (I can code by the way I wasn't just "doing it"!) It was great as no day was the same and I was never bored. It also meant that I had lots of experience working on a vast range of designs within a short period of time.
4 | Take a break
I've never been good at doing this. I learnt to actually force myself to step away and blink. It's so easy to just keep going and end up sitting at your desk from 8.30am all the way through to 6pm! Obviously my bladder often reminded me that I needed to take a break too, but I needed to make it more of a habit than not.
5 | All good things come to an end
With all the benefits that come with a startup there was bound to be a catch, right..? no pension scheme, health insurance, company maternity pay, are just a few of them. It can be hard to one day be working like crazy to the next then realise that you may not have a job to get up and go to. That's the reality of startups. They can quite quickly become "shut-downs". That's why I found that it's ever important to know exactly what you are getting yourself in for. It's your responisilbity to measure the risk and make your decisions.
These are the 5 key things I learnt from working at a startup. It was great fun and I loved every second of it. Would I do it again? - YES!... and thats why I love creating, designing everything for small businesses. It's the whole package. The up and the down, the busy and the quiet (well less quiet).
Why not check out my work and my packages to see if I would be a great fit for your startups' vision.
Have you worked for a startup? What are your thoughts? I'd love to hear about your experiences!