This is a review note (I would not refuse such a note when I went to work in a startup), so that you, as a person who is just planning to launch a startup or join an existing one, can clearly understand what is required of you, what you should be. And we are talking not only about universal skills, but also professional skills.
Skills for managers and specialists
Actually, professional or hard skills. These skills are important for you as a specialist if you are applying for a job in a startup. However, if you are creating a startup yourself, all these skills are no less important for you, because you, as an owner, must understand (even if not in detail, but at least at some level) how each part of your company works.
Financial literacy and accounting
Your startup may be engaged in a socially useful business or make it easier to work in a certain business niche, you may have different sources of funding (most often investments), but one thing unites all startups — these are very scrupulous companies related to money.
And if you run a startup, and if you perform the role of an accountant (this rarely happens — after all, you also need to pay money to an individual specialist, and a startup always has little of it), you need to know and be able to:
- calculate the salary of employees,
- monitor sales,
- control the document flow,
- prepare financial reports for investors, etc., etc.
Hiring and HR
It happens that startups consist of a single person who is both a shvets, a reaper,and a yigret on the duda. But if you do not have the qualities to perform all the roles in the company, you need to be able to search, select and hire suitable personnel. You need to take not just competent specialists to your startup, but those who are on the same wave with you. Although even with loyal and proactive employees, you will have to work in order not to lose their loyalty.
Development and design
When we talk about startups, most often (even, probably, in some absolutely overwhelming number of cases) we mean IT-you must admit, it is difficult to call a coffee shop a startup, because everything is quite definite and predictable there. And since we are talking about IT, you definitely need to understand development and design.
Without understanding the technical part, you are unlikely to be able to organize work on the product. It is not necessary to be able to program yourself (if you go to a startup as a developer, then, of course, it is mandatory), but it is simply necessary to understand how things work — at least so that outsourcers can not deceive you.
There is a similar story with the design. The product should look good, be comfortable and functional — it's all about design. To filter out crappy illustrations from cool ones, to achieve good usability, etc., you need to understand modern trends and understand how users think.
Marketing and Sales
Creating a good product is only half the job. Without proper promotion and active sales, even the most innovative startup will die in a matter of months (it's not for nothing that almost all accelerators help startups primarily with marketing and sales). Therefore, the head of the company should understand this, and individual specialists should be able to do their job.
Skills for everyone
In principle, everything is clear with professional skills — every specialist in a startup should know his business well, and the manager should understand everything at least a little. But in addition to these skills, there are also universal ones that absolutely all startup participants should have. Without them, there is simply no way to survive there, even if you are a brilliant designer, even a programming god, even a sales guru.
Problem solving and decision making
No business goes smoothly, there are always a lot of problems, and your task is to be able to cope with them, and not run away in a panic into the deep forest. You should be able to analyze situations; try to look at them objectively; not be afraid to make mistakes; not postpone what needs to be done here and now; and most importantly-approach tasks creatively, finding non-standard solutions.
I didn't mention this skill in previous articles about soft skills (although it would seem — "flexible skills" and "flexibility"), but it is very, very important in relation to startups.
Any startup is a controlled chaos, so you need to be able to adapt to this chaos, survive in it. It is in an attempt to be flexible and open to changes that many teams work, for example, in weekly iterations (it is not necessary to delve into Agile).
Time is money. And money in a startup, as I have already said, is especially valuable. Therefore, it is important that each employee is able to manage their time competently, do not fail deadlines and do not lose pace.
Not everyone can cope with the chaos and uncertainty that reigns in startups. When everything is constantly changing around, the load is constantly growing, and conflicts regularly arise, you need to be able not only to adjust in a timely manner, but also not to worry too much about all this.
Startups often have only one chance of success. Therefore, it is very important that both you and the entire team initially have the right goals — achievable and capable of moving the company forward. The same applies to a lower level — setting tasks. You need to be able to correctly formulate the goals and tasks that are facing you. If they are correctly formulated, it is immediately clear what needs to be done.
In order for a startup to develop faster, it is necessary to use the human resource of the team as efficiently as possible. The secret is in the right delegation, the ability to communicate with people, the ability to inspire and be inspired — without this, it is better not to get involved in a startup.
I will say separately about communication skills. You need to be able to:
- speak competently and politely;
- clearly express yourself both verbally and in the text;
- present your work;
- find a common language and negotiate;
- read the situation, etc.
In short, you must be able to communicate effectively, quickly and accurately convey your point of view to your interlocutors and perceive what is being said to you.
And finally, you should be able to gather like-minded people around you and lead the team forward. This applies not only to the founder of a startup, but also to any top manager. The leadership skill is closely intertwined with HR, because you need to understand the team members well, know their strengths and weaknesses in order to maximize their potential.
A successful startup is not only a cool idea, but also people who work on its development. Not everyone will be able to work effectively in conditions of continuous uncertainty, so before creating a startup or getting a job there, think a few times and answer the question to yourself: are you suitable for such a crazy (but interesting) job?