Setting Yourself up for Success at an Early Stage Start-up

How can you set yourself up for success whilst working at a startup (especially if it goes belly-up)?

  • Sit down with your manager or your team to ensure that your job profile and tasks include some aspect of these. If not, you may want to volunteer early on to take on side projects that can include the skills you’ve identified you want to learn and walk away with. This can evolve over time, but make sure you keep revisiting this list from time to time (we suggest once a month if possible).
  • Keep track of tasks and accomplishments that you have, even if they strike you as atypical or unimportant. This helps to keep track of valuable projects and experience that get lost in your memory over time. It’ll also help you make the case for a promotion or new role over time!
  • Developing a system of organization early is key to staying afloat and thriving, especially when you’re starting out. You will likely wear many hats even in a seemingly niche role, and a system of organization will help you keep track of everything going on-including your changing role as the company evolves. Whether you use Excel sheets, sticky notes, Trello boards (a personal favorite) or a combination of tools, be sure to track your key projects, relationships and contacts, and develop a set of metrics for measuring your success. Build the habit of updating your notes at a certain time each day or each week: the future you will definitely thank the current you.
  • Finally, find a mentor or a champion in the organization who you can speak with honestly, learn from and run ideas by! This is much easier said than done and will likely take the first six months of your role to do — but keep it in the back of your mind. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have someone that can not only be a sanity check (for all the crazy things that will inevitably come your way) but who will also vouch for you when it comes to promotion time.

Remember that you might need to take your professional development into your own hands!

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Cleantech, Mobility & Energy access enthusiast. Former Tree-hugger @Yale; Splitting my time between Bombay & Nairobi but my heart is in San Francisco.

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Sanjna Malpani

Sanjna Malpani

Cleantech, Mobility & Energy access enthusiast. Former Tree-hugger @Yale; Splitting my time between Bombay & Nairobi but my heart is in San Francisco.

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