Since the burst of the tech bubble at the turn of the 21st century, we have come a long way. Start-ups are not only cool but have emerged as a powerhouse of talent, opportunity and a generous paymaster. This has led to the reduction in average of a company in the S&P equity index to 20 years from the previous 60 years.
AS start-up become more successful at a rapid pace, both employees and its leaders have adapted to rapid changes in the field of technology, finance and industry as a whole. Their success is the result of embracing a growth mindset, which means sacrificing short term pain for long term success and market share. Business leaders who adopt this mindset are likely to push for change, adapt and give constant encouragement to others for the same.
In the midst of this culture and thought methodology, the relieving part of the story is that the above skills, as with many other skills, can be developed with constant review and discipline. The same works for students who are applying for start-up jobs.
The following strategies seem apt for any international student to adopt:
Pitching and Create a Role before Applying
In our ever-changing world, keeping up with changes in the business environment is a harsh reality and start-ups need to adapt to embrace the change. The change could mean anything from increased competition from a deep-pocketed player to entering a new market by the company. A plethora of roles get created in the quest to drive the organization’s adaptability to handle the onslaught of change in the status quo.
In this case, you as a student must anticipate the new functions and lead them by pitching yourself to roles. However, this is easier said than done. This is why it is paramount to assess your skills and having a larger picture in mind for the start-up you are aiming for.
Many first hires to a start-up or a new division within the firm get their jobs upon presenting a pitch-deck about themselves. In some cases, this is done for roles that don’t even exist in the company. These pitches not only successfully create those roles but also get you into them, thus putting you in the driver’s seat in the organization.
Showcase an Outside Perspective
It is important to keep in mind that, as an applicant to a start-up job, you must always strive to think about the company from the eyes of an outsider. An analysis of the risks, potential surprises and dangers can go a long way to not only avoid them but also enhance your candidature at the back of this thought process.
An external view is also needed as there is no certainty in the early days of any business. The business plan might go awry, the customer may not come or the market may turn out to be a mirage. Such a level of uncertainty is definitely not for the weak-hearted. You need to be better prepared to foresee the environment around your chosen field. If you can do that, predicting and unequivocally responding to the competition may just be a walk in the park, rather than a landmine.
Keep the Mission on the Top of Your Head
For any potential hire, the importance of keeping the mission of a start-up on the tip of his tongue cannot be overemphasized. As a start-up begins to grow in size, it can get lost in the byzantine world of policies, procedures, meetings and reports. So much so, it loses sight of its mission and the reason for its existence.
If you think like an owner and show clarity in your thought process about the organization and its mission, it is very likely that the start-up sees you as a perfect fit. Debate, clarify, correct and solidify the business mission and culture so that the business always has its sight on the ultimate prize, rather than short-term objectives.
Finding opportunities in the most unexpected places is another area where students can pitch their candidature to early-stage companies. Avoid the false sense of stability that comes with a size is another pitfall to watch out for when you make that job pitch book.
Customer is King
The idea of the customer as the ultimate benefactor needs to be ingrained every existing and potential employee of a start-up organization. Customers can be both external and internal. External customers are B2B clients, retail consumers and individuals. Internal customers are functions serviced by employees in the support team.
Keeping customers at the forefront can help you become gain resiliency, spot trends and potential issues well ahead of time. This gives sufficient time and resources to act and ensure a robust growth with minimal disruptions.
As a potential start-up employee, you must keep a tab on the organization’s core customer base, their tastes, motivations and plans for a change in loyalties. Interacting with customers on a personal level and conveying that voice to the start-up will closely imbibe the organization culture into your thinking process.
This can be the clincher when it comes to the acceptance of your hiring pitch to the company. You can also emphasize the need to maintain client and customer relationships at a personal level, thereby accruing significant benefits.
Drive the Organization Like a Pilot
Start-ups typically differ from other organizations due to its flattish structure and importance of small projects with personalized attention. This leads to more exposure to every successful project lead and a higher sense of acting like an owner – the Pilot, instead of like a passenger of a long train.
International students need to defend and lead their pitch across the firm they want to join. This attitude corresponds to driving the organization like the owner, calculating the firm’s cost of opportunity and loss as one’s personal cost.
Being a pilot also involves juggling multiple roles in the firm while keeping the overall strategy in mind. Being an employee of a start-up, you may find yourself working on a sales pitch, technical specifications and calling customers as part of feedback calls, all in the course of a typical day.
Start-up jobs provide you with an unparalleled opportunity to not only pitch your skills and talent to suit the organization, but also explore yourself as an individual and develop yourself as a business owner.