Some people buy a house, get married or start a family. I decided to leave a well-established company with nice benefits and pay to the world of (Fintech) startups. Fintech is short for financial technology.
I have never looked back and I can’t imagine working for a big company again. Along the way I’ve learned a trick or two… (or 6)
1. Enjoy it before it’s over
As employer number 3 (or 4, I’m actually not sure) I’ve seen PensionBee transformed from a small room with the two founders Romi and Jonathan to a cool small team of 10 in a shared workspace office just off Borough Market. And all that just in the space of 6 months. In two years, PensionBee is projected to take 5% market share and employ 60 staff. So enjoy it while it lasts!
2. You’ll need to like each other
When you are building a business, leave drama at the front door. The key is that you have to get along well. You’ll be working in a very small room for many hours each week. Better make sure you actually like your team. When Romi and Jonathan hired me, we made sure we actually liked each other before shaking hands.
3. Be a leader, not a boss
A very fashionable thing to say right? Senior leaders like to inspire their teams rather than managing them. It’s so 2016. Startups have always known that this is not a fashion phase or optional management technique: It’s a must. This is another thing to leave at the front door: ego. Romi, our CEO likes to call it ‘together in the bathtub’. If you want to know what that means, read her blogpost here.
4. You’ll wear many hats
I do like my headgear but we’re talking work here: expect to do everything. Before PensionBee I worked with a team of 15 awesome marketers. I’m now the only one and recently, Jade joined me in the ‘marketing team’. Instead of a complete marketing team, I now run Facebook ads, PPC, Linkedin promotions and optimize landing pages on my own. Expect to do a lot of work that’s way out of your comfort zone. When I wrote a script for an animated video, I was freaking out. I’d never done that before. There is nobody else doing it for you, so just jump in the deep end.
5. Be a sponge
Yes, soak it all up. You’ll learn things you would never learn at a big marketing agency or in-house marketing team. You’ll be wearing a suit to an investor meeting on Monday, writing a press release on Tuesday and struggle with Photoshop on Wednesday. There is no way you can be good at everything, so make sure you’re a sponge. Soak it all up. Learning something new (in my case integrating an eCRM platform with a CRM system) is not easy but so rewarding when you progress.
6. Believe in the purpose of the startup
If you’re not a founder but one of the first employees, you need to be behind the purpose of the company 100%. This will get the best out of you and you’ll enjoy your work so much more.
At PensionBee we want to give people full control over their life savings. We’re a challenger brand, addressing the rip-off culture at many pension providers. They charge high fees and hide it in paperwork. Steam is coming out of my ears. Let’s teach them a lesson or two.
Yes, that gets me out of bed in the morning.