Nora Weiss : Guest Post – Should You Join a Start Up?

A different perspective from our Brand Manager Nora Weiss who has been a member of the Wicked Good Team for nearly 3 years and best friends with Dani for over 20 years!

If you’re just coming out of college, grad school or embarking on a new adventure (props to those who make major career changes), finding your spot in the world can be tough. Not that you need to be defined by what you do for work, but you spend a majority of your time there so it may as well be something you can stand, if not somewhat enjoy.

A growing start-up/small business is a dime a dozen. Since the ‘90s, everyone and their mom (I.E. Dani and Tracey – haha) decided it would be best to work for themselves and opened their own company. With the fluidity of the Internet you can say everything boomed (and saturated). Depends on how you look at it, I guess. The question is – should you work for one of these small businesses?

Let’s make this easy. Here’s an awesome list to help you determine if you should send your resume out to Small Business Joe and his “up and coming” company.

Does the Ego Match the Stats?
Like a newbie on a treadmill, everyone starts from somewhere. No company will start out with a million followers on social media or an intensely high ROI in the first six months (if they do, you may want to reread your resume before you send it over). What I’m saying here is find the stuff to back up what the company’s bragging about. Stalk their followers a bit: do they look like bots or people who haven’t Tweeted in a year? Yeah? The company probably bought those likes and they’re shoving their content out to no one. Yes, people do that.

It’s like checking out a date’s profile before you meet up. If you knew they had Catfished someone before, would you still meet up for drinks? Hell, I hope not!

How Important Is Your Free Time?
This is where I emphasize passion. In a start-up or a small business, you have to commit. If you aren’t Over-The-Moon-Kiss-Me-Madly in love with what you’re doing, then it’s time to move on. For anything that needs hard work (and I mean hard freakin’ work), you will need to expel almost all of your time and energy on it in the beginning.

When I started with Wicked Good, I saw my free time deplete. If our retail location needed the smallest thing – like a quick change run to the bank – and I’m the only one around… you bet your ass I’m taking that 45-minute train ride on an early Saturday morning still reeking of last night’s bar to do a ten minute errand. Of course I would rather be sleeping or eating something really greasy, but my calling needs me.

Can You Confidently Write a Damn Email?
This is a weird question, I know. Just follow me for a sec. In a small business/start-up, you will find yourself constantly asking requests from strangers and cashing in on overdue favors from mere acquaintances. You may be desperate for something and just the very idea of asking for it may make you queasy.

For the love of short and complete sentences, get over it! You will be shooting out emails (and yes – phone calls) like these all the damn time. You’ll need to be able to figure out how to type the best email ever… a million times a day.

So true… and the email will three lines long.

So true… and the email will three lines long.

What I’m saying here does not just encompass your diction and email writing; it’s in anything you do for this business. There are a million groups doing exactly what you do and you are always competing with them. To be able to explain yourself, what you need and why you deserve it in as little time as possible is f*cking key. If you’re stumbling over your words or gushing about the history of the company, wave goodbye to whatever you were looking for.

Also – I know this is super simple, but I see it in resumes all the time – stop typing in purple, cursive font. You know who you are.

How Do You Feel About Hats?
Being in a start-up or a small business is the epitome of wearing many hats. This easily translates to: are you a team player or not? Essentially, when a business is up and coming, you need hands everywhere. Things happen and your team is going to need to know they can count on you despite your official title. For example, I am no baker (I make a mean bowl of cereal in the morning, though), but I need to know how to explain our processes to customers. My bakers can’t stand with me and my retail team every time a customer asks an ingredient questions. This is your essential product knowledge and you’ll need to be on board for knowing that even if your daily goal is to just to submit payroll.

Overwhelmed businessman with more and more responsibility - represented by hats.  Another being added.

Your team is small, so people getting sick will happen so you’ll need to be cool with picking up the slack. Are you the social media person but your customer service rep is out with a cold? You better start picking up those phones and talking to customers. It doesn’t matter if whoever on the other line isn’t your direct client: you always need to step up and be ready for whatever, no matter what.

How Do You View Stress?
Let me preface this question with another question: Are you a Glass Half Full or Empty kind of person? Think of that answer in terms of stress. If even the idea of stresses just, well, stresses you out perhaps you should move over to an older company, a place that has experienced all the bumps already and has protocols in place. A start-up or small business is usually on the reactive end of things, so policies don’t exist until after something crazy has already happened.

Be alert. You don’t have to turn green, though.

Be alert. You don’t have to turn green, though.

What does this mean for you? It means you need to use stress as a way to always be on your toes so you’re literally ready for anything and can work through the hiccups. Did a client find some kind of fault in a document? You’re goal here is to stand your ground while also appeasing a client which is really hard. But, you can’t let yourself drown in these stresses. You need to remember that everything is a learning experience… after you figure out how to fix it in the moment. Quick on your feet? Yeah, you’ll be fine.

Ugh. I hate conclusions. It’s something I’ve never really been good at when it comes to writing. Probably because I’m actually pretty long-winded in real life. C’est la vie, right? It’s kind of the same when you take a more objective look at these five questions. Maybe you can’t answer of them with conviction right now, but that’s OK. We’re creatures of habits, so changing who we are to fit a certain style is hard. I feel like it all comes down to passion. It’s what drives you over all the bullshit, you know? You can take the hits, endure the hiccups and even embrace huge mistakes if your love for the game is greater.