10 Things You Can’t Say At A Startup

Every startup first-timer suffers from an acute learning curve after entering the walls of a efficient small company. Whether they transfer from corporate or college, most are thrown into the deep end and left to sink or swim. In most cases, while trying to make sense of the world they utter a few phrases out of frustration. Here are a few of my favorites:

  1. “Thats not my job.”

Yes Yes it is. At a startup, everything is your job, and this excuse wont fly. Even though Im the marketing analyst, Ive written code for landing pages, created content, and photoshopped material for completely unrelated tasks. Hell, Ive even taken the time to clean graffiti off office windows. Because, in a company of 12, EVERYTHING is my job.

  1. Im bored.”

If you’re ever bored at a startup, its not because you have nothing to do. Its because you aren’t taking on enough responsibility. Time to get off the struggle bus and start applying yourself.

  1. “I took the day off.”

Did you? Because Im pretty sure that no matter where you were, you had a to-do list floating around in your head, even as you physically tried to be escape the confines of the office. Remember, people refer to startups as a lifestyle for a reason. You can either take the work home with you, or the work will follow you back home., Choose wisely.

  1. I know exactly what Im doing.”

Lets face it, startups breed chaos and thats why they work. We are well aware of the ambiguity that follows our job titles, but the road to success is an amalgam of iteration, trial, and mostly error. The second you’re convinced that you know exactly what you’re doing is the beginning of the end. You know what? Sometimes, even Steve Jobs didn’t know what he was doing!

  1. Job stability.”


  1. Lets just hire another person.”

With what? Some startup employees would be lucky to get paid in Trident Layers, let alone cash. The truth about burn rates is that money burns really fast. Lawyers, corp fees, salaries, software services etc…, will eat alive you before you have a penny left over for that cool company decal you wanted on the wall. Don’t even get me started about property costs in Silicon Valley. *shudders*

  1. I graduated top of my class.”

And….? Welcome to the real world, where the points are made up and your grades don’t matter. I have worked with high school dropouts who can write python scripts in their sleep, and would rather give them the job, than hire a person whose only skill is convincing an overworked professor that they deserve an A.

  1. Alcohol doesn’t belong in the office.”

In a startup, alcohol in the office isn’t seen as a social red flag., This leads to the casual brew… or two. Stress and anxiety can cripple innovation, so we have learned that inebriation increases innovation (someone turn that into a shirt, please). On the bright side, someone once said that red wine is good for your heart, so it must be healthy!

  1. Stimulants are bad for you.”

Let me key you into a little secret; humans, (especially developers), run on coffee. It is the ethanol of the working man. It is the fire that burns the midnight oil. It is the main reason why I love my company… because we have free coffee. And, without it, I probably would have fallen asleep on my keyboard so many times that you would think the asdf indented in my cheek was just a birthmark.

  1. I feel unaccomplished.”

If you hear someone at a startup say this, slap them. Startup employees are the most over-achieving, risk prone, hyper qualified, under- paid and ego driven individuals you will ever meet. Were not here for the money, and if we were, we probably would respond to the hundreds of odd jobs being sent to us by LinkedIn recruiters. This game is all about legacy. and the casual IPO.

If you agree with my rant, check out my startup and download our iPhone app, Staance (here)! Oh, and if you’ve got talent, were hiring. Dont worry – there’s free coffee.


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