Starting your career in a small company is very different to a graduate scheme and the skills you need to excel can be distinctive as well. Core attributes, like the ability to communicate effectively and teamwork, are essential whatever you do after graduation, but these skills are especially desired by growing start ups.
Things can change quickly in start ups. New ideas can be implemented and tested at a fast pace, as you continuously amend your processes to become more effective. If the company is growing at a rapid pace, you’ll also have new people joining, new clients or customers coming on board and widespread changes within the company.
Being able to function at your peak while major change like this occur is very important. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re good at adapting and performing at times of growth, this is an exciting environment to work in.
Generating new ideas and producing results within the confines of a small budget is a vital part of working in a start up. Small companies are always looking for new ways to engage with their customers or clients and you’ll be given the freedom to trial new ideas. Everyone in a growing business will be encouraged to have ideas to drive the company forward, not just the marketing department.
Being disruptive doesn’t mean they want people to fall out with colleagues and cause problems for management. In this sense, it’s all about challenging the status quo and coming up with innovative solutions. Start ups want to bring something unique to the market and stand out, so you’ll often need to be thinking outside the box. If you want to make an impact and have a passion to change things, starting your career in a small business could be for you.
You may not be required to sell a service or product, but you will need to sell the concept of the business. If it’s a small start up, not many people you meet will know what the company is or does, therefore mastering a concise and simple pitch is essential. Growing companies look for those who have clearly bought into the concept and can communicate the overarching vision effectively.
Working in a start up can be tough and a company’s growth is rarely a smooth ride. There will be setbacks and your ability to bounce back from these is a key asset. Learn from when things don’t quite go your way, and use this to drive forward new ideas without any less desire. Demonstrating you have grit and tenacity will give you the edge when apply to growing firms.
No matter what your role is, negotiating is essential. If you’re sales focused, convincing customers or clients to try something new and spend money with you is a big challenge. In other areas of the business, your budgets are likely to be small and you’ll be expected to utilise what you’ve got fully. Negotiating good deals from suppliers, for marketing campaigns and even on stationery can help you stretch your budget as far as possible.
And finally – be an all-rounder
In a small company, you’ll be required to do a broad range of tasks, which will reach much further than your job description. Resources are spread much more thinly across vital departments, so you’ll often be asked to help out with projects which you wouldn’t normally be involved in. You wouldn’t be expected to be excellent at everything, but if you’re a quick learner and enthusiastic, that’ll go a long way.
View our application deadline list for the latest entrepreneurship and start-up graduate schemes.