September 17 2020
The correct startups, provide great opportunities to grow and learn new things. You'd really enjoy working at one, more, if you were coming out from a stagnant, risk averse giant corporate job. But if you have spent a fair amount of time in a corporate, with set processes, nigh unlimited resources, and hyper-specialist coworkers, transitioning to a startup may need a little mental preparation. Here's a couple of things you may want to bear in mind.
1. It's not just about applying your skills, It's about building a company
Building a company needs you to behave as if you have skin in the game. That means what you design will be heavily informed by what is needed to make your company successful. You will have to do bunch of non portfolio-able design. Not exactly rockstar designer stuff, but extremely required to build your company's credibility and eventually bring in revenue.
2. Generalist skills are more valuable
If your goal is to do specialist work, an early stage startup may not be the place for you. If you are the sole designer, at any given moment, you'd be supporting product, also marketing, but also sales. Also operation. Putting a positive spin on that, I would say that you'll most definitely have that coveted seat at the table. The downside, it tends to become overwhelming. Here are a few things you can look forward to try out. In decreasing order of excitement
Honestly I never thought I 'd see the day I would be designing power point presentations (🤮), and I sure as hell would never have done it at a larger company.
So if you are not too caught up in labels, and believe polymaths are a real thing and are frustrated by process, I would encourage you to explore joining a smaller company or startup ( These are not the same thing). But how does one select which startup to join. Aren't the majority of them destined to fail?
That would be the topic of my next post.