Work-life in a start-up is not comparable to the one that I experienced before. There are many significant differences which aren’t obvious from an outside perspective.
Change of Scenery
When I dove into the start-up life four months ago, I didn’t know what to expect. I quickly learned the drastic differences between the “classic” work-life and the dynamic start-up work-life.
Before, I volunteered at a social institution where I started my voluntary social year. After several months of repetitive work and a tense work environment, I decided to start an internship at Neohelden. I can proudly say that I don’t regret this decision in any way.
My tasks during the voluntary social year weren’t very challenging and consisted mostly of cleaning and handing out flyers. These tasks didn’t help me develop and improve my skills. I started the voluntary social year after the abitur with a high thirst for knowledge but felt like my knowledge was decreasing rather than increasing.
As soon as I realised this, I knew that I couldn’t go on like that. The tense work environment strengthened my resolve for this decision even more.
I ended my employment relationship and two weeks later, I signed my new contract with Neohelden.
My Learnings From the Start-up Life
#1 Bosses? Nope, More Like: Friends and Colleagues
At Neohelden – or rather most start-ups – you won’t find the clearly defined hierarchical structure known from big companies. Here, everyone has the same position, more or less. Even the bosses are just marginally higher-ranking. Generally, start-up bosses are more relaxed and down to earth, which is why employees at Neohelden never need to be nervous or scared when they have a one on one meeting with one of the founders. The Neohelden have a friendly and close relationship with their colleagues. They can rely on their “bosses” always being interested in supporting and bringing out the best in everyone. I, for example, am tasked with organising our “Zukunftstüftler” event together with my colleague Cathrin and have a lot of responsibilities that go along with that.
#2 Travelling is a Big Part of Work and it’s Fun
It’s very normal to have to go to conferences and even go abroad for a start-up. Many events support start-ups with networking or presenting their ideas. In the four months that I’ve worked for Neohelden, we’ve been to big conferences in Amsterdam, the USA and Wien. Despite having no previous experience with conferences, I was allowed to attend the TNW in Amsterdam to gain some experience and I had a blast doing so.
#3 Contact to Strangers is Normal
One should be open and outgoing when working at a start-up. You will meet new people and introduce yourself to businesses daily. That’s the way you get new customers and make people more aware of your start-up. At the start, being open with strangers was quite hard for me, but the more I had to do it the easier it got. Sometimes you just have to face your fears ;-).
#4 Networking is Important
A big network makes for many opportunities. “Vitamine B” is useful in your private life as well as your work life. In the ecosystem of start-ups, it’s normal for one start-up to support another where they can. They are happy to see other founders succeed and can count on the support of other start-ups. Help ranges from arranging contacts to acquiring projects
#5 Speak Your Mind!
In a very positive light, I noticed that we always directly say what we like and what we don’t. Criticism is always delivered directly, even if that could offend others. We are honest to each other in all topics and that is, to me, a lesson for life: Never keep discontent to yourself. You should always have the courage to speak your mind.
#6 Solidarity is Key
Our founder Kiryo says once in a while: “Starting a startup is sometimes more difficult than educating a child. Especially when dealing with young, innovative people.” 😉
In a start-up, it’s essential to be able to rely on each other. Mistrust and permanent check-ups are uncalled for. A start-up can only work when the team is harmonic and everyone is aware of their responsibilities. You also need to be sure that the team always comes back to a common ground after an argument. An argument should never be the reason a start-up failed.
Months Full of Experiences
My time at Neohelden is filled with exciting, interesting and special experiences. I can’t recommend the start-up life enough, because it put a whole new perspective on how much fun one can have in their work-life and with their colleagues. Working in a start-up means taking on responsibilities. Employees are trained and no one is expendable. In conclusion, I can only say that I have tons of fun working at Neohelden and that I don’t regret my decision to work there for a few months a single bit.
If you also want to make experiences and gain insights on the start-up life, you can contact us here.