The one thing I’ve benefited the most from in my career is to start stuff. It’s easy to say that when you’re in a startup – it’s literally in the name. I believe this is just as important when you’re an employee in a bigger company. By starting something in a company, you’re taking initiative that likely other people aren’t taking but also learning a ton along the way. It can also serve as a great on ramp for someone to eventually start their own business.
In recent years, there’s been some fetishizing of startups. This isn’t a bad per se, more people starting companies is obviously a great thing. My one gripe with the startup mantra is that many people don’t see themselves as entrepreneurs and are not ready to take the risk. It can create a sense of anxiety, a fear of missing out in your career – at last this had been the case for me. What helped me was to start stuff as an employee and realize that the “risk” wasn’t really a risk at all. It helped overcome my fear and lack of confidence.
Inside of a company, taking one new initiative can be an amazing way to learn and develop new skills. It will also serve as a springboard for people that aren’t ready to venture out onto their own. The best way to do this is to take on more responsibilities. Do more stuff well and people will likely give you more stuff to do.
What’s neat about this approach is that it doesn’t need to be some bold project. Something starting stuff can be small initiatives that can lead to something bigger. It will also shake off the “employee mindset”; something that I had to wrestle with for a long time. The start stuff mindset always helped me even when I didn’t realize that’s what I was doing.
Finally, just want to say hats off to the good folks at Startupfest Montreal that put together a great event this week despite a few challenges to say the least.