By KunalPatil, Co-founder WorkIndia
India’s startup ecosystem is booming, thanks to a paradigm shift in the mindsets of the current generation of go-getters. Jobs are no longer just a means of survival for this generation, which looks at employment as the key to leading a holistic life. In fact, according to NASSCOM, India is the third largest startup ecosystem in the world, with over 1,300 startups launched so far this year. The startup landscape has become the epitome of innovation, with companies constantly pushing the bar to enable solutions and services that solve issues right at the grassroots.
Being a startup founder myself, I can safely say that the startup world is full of possibilities with as much conviction as I can testify to the fact that it is laden with myriad variables. If I were to describe the startup landscape in one word, I would say: unpredictable. And understandably so. Innovation is never achieved on safe waters; you need to dive as deep as you can to reach the root of what you’re trying to solve.
Swelling demand for the right talent
Naturally, the demand for highly skilled people who can think on their toes and deliver on expectations is ever on the rise. The onus of a startup’s success or failure is on the shoulders of its team, and therein lies the biggest challenge that the ecosystem is grappling with. Unlike big corporations who have the resources to comfortably recruit a large team for a specific job, startups must look for fewer but quality candidates who can deliver. It goes without saying that the hiring process is much more rigorous and demanding, like everything else in a startup.
If you’re looking to kickstart your career in a startup, here are a few qualities that we’re always looking for in a candidate.
1. Can always think on your toes
Analysis paralysis is, perhaps, the greatest menace a startup employee has to deal with. The environment is always brimming with energy and every second counts;decisions are taken in a matter of minutes. Even breaks are nothing but productivity-enhancing tools. As such, there is nothing more harmful than losing precious time drowned in analysis paralysis. It is important that you’re comfortable in your shoes and can take decisions with a calm mind despite the pressures.
2. Gets the job done
Tenacity is a highly sought-after quality in a startup, because there’s barely any room for excuses. One measure of success in a startup environment is if you can always get the job done and get it done right, without throwing excuses around. Well, of course, there’s always room for mistakes; that’s how you learn. One great thing about working in a startup is you constantly get to learn, be it from external sources or from your own mistakes. But there’s never any room for repeating previously committed blunders. In a nutshell, you must be willing to keep pushing your limits and keep learning.
3. Is proactive in taking up responsibilities
Gone are the days when all team members needed to do, to move up the ladder, was to duly finish the responsibilities “assigned” to them. We’re living in times underpinned by fickle demands and unpredictable market conditions, and there is hardly any scope for complacence here. As such, you must be ready to proactively take up new responsibilities, because the only way you can beat unpredictability is by taking it head on.
4. Must have impeccable communication skills
Like it or not, we live in a day and age driven by competition, which means any and all employees are eventually replaceable, more so, in a startup. How do you stay ahead of the competition? – bystanding out, by adding real, tangible value to whatever you do. Standing out entails more than just getting the job done; it also requires you to back it up with enough conviction to invite recognition – something that may prove to be a herculean task without excellent communication skills.
5. Must be emotionally intelligent
By now, you must have got an overall idea of the kind of environment that thrives in a startup. It is a nurturing turf to test brand new ideas with full confidence, something that you won’t get in MNCs. A roller-coaster ride would be the most apt analogy to describe one’s life in a startup, and roller-coaster rides are only for the strong-hearted and for those who enjoy challenges in life – people who aim to leave a strong impact. This is why emotional intelligence is something that most startup founders look for in their talent pool. Always keep in mind that, in a startup, you are part of a small team that works towards a singular vision. More importantly, you must be ready to accept criticism from your team as well as directly from the product users, because users are the real bosses in a startup who guide, punish, and reward us.
A career in a startup is demanding, no doubt, but it has its own share of perks. The stress and pressure are always there and only people who can learn to take it with a pinch of salt are the ones who emerge successful. Well, no one’s saying you have to be perfect; all I’m saying is that you need to be ready to take the challenges head on, and the rest will take care of itself.