How to Measure Your Success at a Start Up

How to Measure Your Success at a Start Up

By: Emily Taylor
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I used to think the most exciting part of forging a new career was the prospects of climbing the corporate ladder.

When transferring my mentality from school to work, grades became promotions, scholarships became raises and “the curve” became the ladder. I thrived in an environment based on identifying, meeting and exceeding expectations. Which is why beginning work at a start-up company was so challenging for me.

In a start-up – or any organization that focuses on innovation and constant development – there are no concrete expectations to exceed. This is both liberating and terrifying for someone who has always measured success based on surpassing the benchmarks of professors and leaders.

Liberating, in that you can finally take ownership and creative direction in your work. Instead of perfectly replicating an outline, you’re brainstorming and identifying your own high-level (goals) and concrete (deliverables) objectives.   You can develop your own projects and watch them come to life, which is motivating and inspiring.

Yet it’s terrifying, because although your successes are rewardingly your own, so are your failures. You can’t blame your TA or a vague outline or the curve.  If you miss your deadline, or don’t make your target, or lose a lead – it’s completely on you.

However, this is why working for a start-up is such an incredible learning experience. If you can reflect on those failures and turn them into future strategies by examining where you went wrong, talking to your leaders and identifying areas for improvement, you will become a much more confident and competent employee.

Finally, what’s most rewarding about working for a start-up is that you’re not just reaching higher to further yourself. You’re truly contributing to the growth and development of something much larger.

You’re constructing your own corporate ladder. With every rung you build and surpass, you strengthen and improve your company and its future direction. And from my experience, making a tangible and significant difference feels better than any promotion ever could.

Posted on April 25, 2014