The Start-Up Experience

They always say, write about what you know. And what I know is what it’s like to work in a start-up.

I’ve been with OnMedia since we were OnMedia Creatives and I was the only girl in a 5-man team. And I’m still with them now – now that we’re OnMedia Pro (the production house) and OnMedia Plus (the botique advertising agency). In the almost-two-years that I’ve been working here I’ve acted as a producer, writer, director, production assistant, accounts manager, assistant director, camera operator, creatives, and (quite often) a stand-in 🙂

For those of you who may be wondering what it’s like to work in a start-up, here are a few things that I hope will help in imagining what it would be like and what you’d have to do:

  • Work with them. In a start-up, you’re not working for the company, you’re working with them. Because of the small size of the team, everyday work is highly collaborative and the people around you will expect you to be on board with your creativity, intelligence, and drive. Similarly, since the group is so small, everything you do affects everyone else. If you don’t do your job well someone will have to do it for you or worse – it affects the entire project. Do your job and do more. Readiness to take on different roles is a big thing.
  • Self-awareness is key. One of the things I love about being part of a start-up is that you get to help define what the company is. Who you are as a company and what you do specifically will probably change with time and more experience (as it did with us) but nevertheless, it’s still important to flesh these things out and go back to it every so often. Knowing what you’re working towards affects how you work 🙂
  • Discipline. Take responsibility for yourself. Yes, you will still have a boss but most likely your boss will have more important things to do at this stage than know where you are and tell you what to do. So lessen the load on his back. Discipline yourself. Regardless if the start-up you’re working for has regular hours or not, do your best to work regular hours and be there even when you don’t have anything to do. From my personal experience, the progress of a start-up is something you have to work on everyday – even the small tasks translate to improvement. Anticipate the things that need to be done and do them well.
  • Be a sponge. Because you’ll have many roles to fill and because you’ll be moving at a fast pace, you have to learn well and you have to learn quick.  A mistake is something to bounce off from quickly and something to remember. The things you learn and the way you use them help the company greatly so always be on the lookout.
  • Pat your boss on the back. I always remember something my boss, Saz, told me once. He said that the thing he misses most about working for a regular company is having a boss to evaluate his work. Yes they had the guts and the intelligence to create their own business, but that doesn’t mean our bosses are all confidence, or that they’re perfect for that matter. If you think there’s a better way for your boss to go about his tasks, tell him. If you think he’s doing a good job, tell him. It’ll go a long way.

So, that’s my very own start-up experience. I’ve learned a lot and I’m still learning.

If you’re yearning to create something and you’re comfortable with risk and change, I’d say go for a start-up – the ownership alone is extremely worth it 🙂

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