You know that part of Jerry Maguire when Tom Cruise quits and makes “The Speech?”
Most of his coworkers look at him like he’s off his rocker, but the one played by Renee Zellweger finds a kernel of truth in it. After about 30 seconds of mental gymnastics later, she’s decided to quit her comfortable job to move to Cruise’s sports agency startup, taking little more than her hopes, her dreams, and a fish in a bag.
It’s a leap of faith that ultimately pays off in the form of a grassroots sports agency that cares about its clients, and a pretty adorable family consisting of Zellwegger, Cruise, and Jonathan “The human head weighs 10 pounds” Lipnicki.
Most of us have dreamed of giving up the corporate life and going into business for ourselves. But not all of us have the spark to come up with the next great something. The good news is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to take on an exciting role with a new company. Startups might begin with a single person’s idea, but the good ones proliferate and need expert guidance and support to transform them into winning companies.
Taking that leap of faith into leaving the consistent, if somewhat dull world of corporate America behind can be terrifying, particularly if you’re the type of person with a car payment, a home loan, 2.5 kids, a spouse and a beagle at home.
Here are seven great reasons to make a move to joining a startup.
1. Every day brings new challenges and opportunities.
When you’re in a corporate office, there are days, heck even weeks, when you’re doing the same task over and over with minimal interactions or deviations. Same thermostat temperature, same brand of lousy coffee, same coworkers griping about the same other coworkers; same time clocked in, same time clocked out.
By comparison, rarely are two days alike when you’re working for a startup. Some days you’ll be traveling, some you’ll be in meetings both – real and virtual, some days you’ll be crafting campaigns, and others you’ll be sitting around spitballing ideas for a million different challenges. Startups bring variety to your day-to-day.
Sure, sitting at the same desk punching the same combination of keys has a certain safeguard quality to it, but when you grow tired of the same old, same old, startups offer the constantly-changing environment you might have never known you were missing.
2. Lots of work with lots of results.
In your corporate job, you might have 600 emails to go through every week – setting order forms, asking why customers are canceling, and making sure the TPS forms are filled out in triplicate. The reward for completing these tasks is another 600 emails in your inbox next week. Your plate probably will be piled even higher at a startup, but knocking out those tasks will accomplish things. You’ll make phone calls to set up business opportunities; you’ll network with IT professionals to send your infrastructure soaring into the cloud; and you’ll close sales deals that allow the startup to expand with more help, more resources, and more success.
3. Work with some supremely talented people.
Great ideas don’t just materialize out of thin air; they are the brainchildren of creators, innovators, geniuses, and hard workers who believe in them to the point of obsession. If you find a good startup, you’re likely to see a few genuinely visionary people behind it. If you’ve ever complained about having a lousy or boring superior at work, this is your chance to choose a new leader based on their passion, skill, and dreams. The sort of people that create successful startups are those who not only possess dominant business understanding, but also to see how their invention, design, or idea can make some small part of the world a better place. Getting on board with them is a great way to free up your sense of wonder and creativity.
4. Get Your Brain outside the Box.
It’s a cliche, but it applies nicely to startups. In the blink of an eye, you can be free of the restrictions of bloated bureaucracy and infrastructure that can bog down tasks as simple as buying a new brand of coffee or requisitioning a spiral notebook for your workstation. The playbook is suddenly wide open for how you want specific processes to go, how you want to communicate externally and internally, and how you can shake it up just about any method that you’ve always done only one way. The Pomodoro Technique for better time management is just one technique that has emerged as startups, and small businesses have developed, challenging the built-in beliefs of American companies and corporations.
5. Expand your skill set and your opportunities.
If you’re the vice president of sales as your job, you have about two career options in place: vice president of sales somewhere else or president of sales where you are. Depending on your ambitions and your work-life balance, that might be right up your alley. For those who want a little more action and suspense at work, a startup provides the ability to explore different passions and interests as the startup itself grows bigger and evolves into what comes next. You could go from sales to marketing to social media to a C-suite job within 18 months at a startup, picking up the best of each area to become a stronger overall professional.
6. Wiping the slate clean.
One of our staff members once worked for a company whose motto was “boundarylessness.” Really. It was swiped from a General Motors training manual when they got bored of just saying “Without boundaries.” When you join a startup, you don’t have to conform to the mottos and credos set up by the company founders 100 years ago. You can contribute to them in real time and set in motion a company where the beliefs of the first wave of employees are the bedrock of the company.
7. Startup Culture.
Startups are generally relaxed environments where what you do is infinitely more important than what you are wearing. Pantyhose and ties can stay at home while you come to work in blue jeans and bright T-shirts. If you want to work remotely at Starbucks one morning, you can do it. If you decide to relocate to San Luis Obispo, telecommuting is entirely on the table. Startups thrive on technology and collaboration. If you can harness them, you’re going to have a lot of fun.