5 More Traits You’ll Need to Succeed at a Startup

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We all know that working at a startup is a lot different from working at an established business, especially a larger enterprise. While necessary technical skills may be similar across business models, that’s rarely the case with personality type and cultural fit. So, how do you know if you’re right for a startup?

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You’ll find the answer by taking a long look at yourself. We’ve already seen how characteristics like resourcefulness and self-motivation play a big role in the success of people working at startups. But as some have pointed out, there’s no such thing as a one-off list when it comes to determining whether a job is the right fit. So, if you’re thinking of going to work for a new company, ask yourself whether you have these five traits.


Though you’ll see it listed as a requirement in a lot of job postings, “passion” can be a misnomer. Startup workers need more than passion—they need commitment to their company and its products. Commitment breeds focus and a single-mindedness that leads to getting things done.


As a corollary, there’s willingness—the willingness to do whatever it takes for however it long it takes to accomplish your goals, especially when you’re juggling diverse tasks. We’re not just talking about the willingness to grind on with your development work, either. Are you someone who can jump in to mop up after a pipe bursts in the communal kitchen? Can you do your job, someone else’s, and take the office-supplies order? Your actions should show a responsibility toward the company’s overall objectives and goals rather than your own position.


Startups don’t offer ladders to climb, but they do provide opportunities for those who step up. Because they’re small, they also don’t provide many places to hide when something goes wrong. If you’re the kind of person who’s not bothered by facing a challenge riddled with unknowns, you may have a strong streak of entrepreneurialism yourself. Combine that with a commitment to getting things done and you’re sure to find yourself in the inner circle.


Speed is the startup’s advantage. New companies move quickly and grow because their employees are able to work cohesively in a fluid environment. If you thrive in chaos, can think on your feet and are capable of looking at a lot of disparate parts to comprehend the whole, you’re a good fit.


Because the stakes are so high to everyone involved, your personal and professional integrity is crucial. Founders need to know their team is going to be accountable when things go wrong as easily as they take credit when things go right. Politics is everywhere, of course, but startups don’t have the luxury to take the time to deconstruct why a marketing plan fizzled or a product wasn’t properly tested. They need people who can face up to their missteps and move on.

Startups aren’t for everyone. They move fast and don’t have much of a safety net in place. But for the right people, they can be as exciting as they are rewarding. Your commitment to the company, its mission and the work you’ll do will all have a big impact on how successful you can be in sometimes-dizzying environment.

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