What I’ve learned after four years in a startup

In 2016 I started my journey as a freelancer, and going back ’till then, I was looking for a side job with little to no effort to grant me an extra few bucks a month. I then found a job listing by the CTO of LeadsBridge, a small Italian startup entirely bootstrapped, searching for some customer support agents.

The application went great, we started working together shortly, and I quickly growth my position as the customer support team leader.

In the following months, the passion for what I was doing snowballed in me, the time spent was enormously bigger than our initial plans, and my salary adjusted accordingly. I am also the 7th – we should be around 40 people now -, so I guess this played its part in the situation (my expectations were undoubtedly high).

Right after being turned 2, I left the support management for a Marketing Specialist position. New role, renewed motivation.

Fast forward to today, I’m still part of the marketing team, and last month I celebrated my fourth year with them.

This is what I’ve learned by being in a startup:

  • Growth is not steady but rather a roller-coaster, both for money and emotions.
  • Being successful is not always related to the amount of money; instead, goals, personal growth, or happiness can be the key. Try to define what success is for you.
  • Put the effort in, but always seek for smarter solutions.
  • Balance your time between work and life. It’s easy to get sucked into the workaholic routine, but burnout is a serious issue which I do not recommend to anyone.
  • Get your time off; you need it, you’ve earned it.
  • For the sake of God, shut off notifications when you’re away. If someone needs your help, they will find you (or the solution) in another way. Your mind will thank you later.
  • Above a certain number of people, maintaining a playful environment is challenging. If you have a small team, do it with them.
  • If something requires time, deploy fast, improve later. Keep in mind the 80/20 rule.
  • Your product should be easy to use; the more the friction, the more the customer requests. And you’ll inevitably spend way more time dealing them.
  • As for football teams, players who carried you from division 3 to division 1 will not be the same. More skilled and expert people are required to climb the ladder. Turnaround is something unavoidable.
  • As in life, try to exit the comfort zone whenever you can. You’ll learn new skills faster, become better, and so the business.
  • Please don’t take it too seriously. Remember to enjoy what you’re doing.

It’s not much, but that’s what I learned.

If you want to support, please consider buying me a beer.

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