If you’d have told me two months ago that I’d have clicked my way to a job with a startup on Twitter, interview on Skype—and found my niche—I’d have laughed in your face.
And yet last week while I was judging an amazing group of young startup founders as part of Entrepreneur Organization’s Global Student Entrepreneur Awards, I stumbled onto the realization that I’ve truly embarked on a whole new life. In my new role as editor at Boston-based Yesware, I’ve become part marketer, part startup junkie, all adventurer. Being among entrepreneurs I finally realized what I’d been missing in all the previous years of my professional life. Entrepreneurs don’t hold back. They keep challenging themselves, the status quo, the belief that playing it safe is good enough.
The thing is, I’ve always thought that I’ve been fearless. But working for a startup you have to go to that cliff’s edge every day, get just close enough, let your toes dangle over, but keep the rest of your body in check. And the secret is, you have to know how much adrenaline you can handle—and then push a little more. Because at a company where you’re constantly expected to be a high performer, you’re allowed to falter, but only if you have a really good reason, you can pick yourself up, move forward, and fight back to keep going even stronger.
So as we sit down to Thanksgiving dinner, here’s why I’m thankful that I’m working for a startup:
- Risk-reward payoff. In a world where there’s so much hedging, we’re encouraged to be gutsy in our approach, our thinking, and our creativity. So long as we keep the customer top of mind, we’re free to pitch and bring up virtually any idea
- Every day is the new hotness. OK, so I’m still not sure what hotness means in code speak, but I can guess. What it signifies to me is that while I know I have daily tasks to achieve, I’m still meeting new people and encountering new challenges—which means that every day is a learning opportunity. I’m never bored and my honeymoon period hasn’t worn off yet
- Flexibility is a benefit. Besides actually getting benefits like health insurance, I can work from home, take off on a business trip with one day’s notice and get ready for a killer presentation in minutes. If you’re not a person who understands the meaning of the words spontaneity, flexibility and agility, you’re in the wrong business
- Take a number. How many times have we complained that our higher ups at enterprise companies see us as just a number? Well, here, we wear our numbers with pride. Being employee No. 13 actually means something. Especially when we hit it big in the future
- Networking. Between our investors, clients, prospects and other entrepreneurs, I’m always meeting interesting people. I used to be a shy person, but recently found myself chatting away with strangers who quickly became warm and welcoming. It’s mostly about your attitude, so take it from a wallflower: Have fun at a networking event and you’ll draw a crowd
- Finding your spot. Let’s face it, we all have those days when we go in (or work from home/on the road/what have you) and are just frustrated by the amount of work we’re just.not.getting.done. But when you’re part of a small team you can see the impact you’re having—mostly immediately. And sure, it goes both ways, for good and for bad, but knowing that your actions and strategies directly impact the company’s directions is a pretty powerful feeling
Ultimately it’s about being appreciated. Our contributing writer Nacie Carson, who has also written for Upstart Business Journal, often says that to be happy people need to know that they matter. While I definitely didn’t know a couple of months back that I’d be finding my next step at a tech startup, being open to new opportunities, embracing challenges and having a can-do attitude are the three must-haves I’m also thankful for.
This post originally appeared on Upstart Business Journal.