As humans we work a lot. Some of us more than others, but it’s one of the few constants in most of our lives. We have to work to pay the bills and live the lifestyles of our choice.
A few years back I decided that I was no longer interested in working “for the man” – i.e. take a standard 9-5 job with an established company. I made this decision based on a variety of factors, but most of it was after having had the opportunity to work on several startups with a variety of entrepreneurs.
As I built one of my own consulting businesses up I also realized that I was no longer interested in working with larger companies in general. I found myself taking on more and more early stage companies as clients, and now it’s my preferred demographic.
Here’s why I love working with startups and entrepreneurs –
The Excitement of “New”
If you’ve never felt the raw excitement of a true startup you’re definitely missing out. It brings an energy level that you can’t find in larger, more established businesses. Building things from scratch, finding your core competency, closing your first customers, and so much more. These “new” business operations give you a small rush, much like riding a roller coaster for the first time. And once you get used to that rush it’s hard to get off the roller coaster (i.e. go back to the corporate world).
I love helping my clients with these new things. It allows me to ride the roller coast right behind them! It also keeps me sharp and nimble to apply any learnings back to my own businesses. These new feelings of excitement are very hard to replicate in a larger business, even when they try to operate like a startup. For example, launching a new product line is not the same as launching a new business. It’s a slightly similar, but vastly different feeling. There’s a unique energy of starting from the ground level, which is completely invigorating for me.
I’ve also realized that the early stages of a business’s lifecycle is where I add the most value. I can educate young entrepreneurs and business operators on all the “startup” ways because I’ve done them before. These business challenges are much different than a company of 50 employees that’s looking to scale to 8-figure revenue. So in that regard, the new stage is an area that I have deeper experience in, and therefore makes my services to clients a lot more valuable.
If you’ve worked in the corporate world you know all about bureaucracy – i.e. the chain of command. There’s your C-level execs, which nobody’s every really met, but they get gossiped about like nobody’s business. There’s your VP level, which means you’re inline for a C-level position within the next 10 years if you get lucky. There’s your lower level management, which gives you the authority to oversee a small group of people. And then there’s your entry level employees, who work their ass off to get to one of those higher levels.
This type of bureaucracy is not for me. Sure, I think there should be leadership in any company, but all the org charts and hierarchy is not my preferred way to operate. I don’t want to send an email that requires a decision which needs to go up and down a chain. Instead, I’d rather work with a core group of people who really care about their business, and really understand their business.
That’s what you find with startups and entrepreneurs – zero beauracracy.
Everything’s on the Table
For a startup or entrepreneur, their business is their baby. It’s the thing that pays their bills, feeds their family, and breathes life into their work. It’s why they get up every morning and start cranking. More importantly, they need this [business] to succeed. There is no option B or “better luck next time.” It’s now or never. They’ve put it all out on the table with everything to lose.
Knowing this makes my work with my clients a lot more meaningful. I know I’m making a difference in their lives, not just their business. Helping them grow and provide for themselves (and their families) is far more important and impactful for me than doing the same with larger companies where the growth is less significant. I know the early revenue means something to them. I also know they truly value my help and services to help them succeed.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of pains and challenges when working with startups and entrepreneurs as well! Things can be sloppy, unorganized, and often times chaotic. There’s also a learning curve that many early stage businesses have to endure. But at the end of the day, I’ll take it over the corporate world any day of the week.