If there's only one lesson you could learn about what it means to be involved in a tech startup, I hope you would learn this. No one succeeds by fitting the mold. Successful tech startups do not succeed by adhering to some definition of what a tech startup should be. Each person involved in a tech startup does not succeed by some stock set of personality traits.
For the last year, we've had eight people on our team, just recently down to seven (we miss you, Seth). We're incredibly tight knit. We have some overlapping characteristics, a few commonalities, but we're really about as different in personality as a group our size can be.
There's a lot of lessons we've learned since our launch, not the least of which is this one. It might be the most liberating lesson I've learned since starting! You don't have to fit any mold to do well in a tech startup. You don't have to act a certain way, wear a certain style, or think in a particular way to belong.
Scroll through your LinkedIn feed, and you're bound to come across some headline like this: "15 Characteristics of Every Successful Entrepreneur." It's a fun, relatable, shareable piece for those it applies to, but there's no real substance to it. Really, the only things successful entrepreneurs have in common are: they do a lot of work, they keep trying until they get it right, and they learn as much as they can. Even these don't necessarily apply to everyone!
To me, it's very comforting to understand that you don't have to fit into anyone's definition of what's "right" to do well in a tech startup environment. There's a guy in our office who I honestly don't think has every made a Facebook post. Our implementation manager teaches a barre class. Our CEO also runs a low-tech apparel franchise. I spend more time with a pen in my hand than a keyboard. And we all thrive in this environment!
I'm focusing on our lack of technology use specifically to note that you don't have to be a technological savant to excel in a tech startup environment. Each of us is able to contribute and help the company grow, even though we don't fit an idealized description of a Millennial, hoodie-wearing, techie personality. And I think that's really powerful.
If you're in the tech startup world, you've probably experienced this first hand. Not everyone stays up until 2am coding every night! If you're not currently in the tech startup world, I hope you find this encouraging. Startups have become such a large part of today's business culture (heck, we spend five hours a day on social media), that I think it's important for those on the outside looking in to understand that you can join the club at anytime. The world of tech startups is not exclusive!
Everyone is capable of doing great things in their own way. They key is "in their own way." Each personality is different from the next, and each has something valuable to contribute. There is no one personality you need for a tech startup.
-- Kenneth Burke, Marketing & Communications