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Startups are notorious for providing fast and chaotic working conditions. The image that typically comes to mind when someone mentions the word “startup” is the idea of wearing many hats to cover all of a company’s needs. This has, for better or worse, become all too common.

Despite the balancing acts and mayhem, clever bosses and shrewd workers have learned how to navigate through to the eye of the storm. This allows them to reap inspirational levels of productivity and motivation found in no other work environment. If you want your startup to become that kind of environment, here’s what you need to do next.

Tips for business owners

Learn how to pick ’em.

If you’ve ever tried scaling up a team before, you’ve probably realized that a good technical matchup with a job description won’t always translate to a worker who truly meets the needs of the company. This is especially true in startups. While it’s never easy to gauge how a person will perform, there are several factors you may want to weigh into your decision making process when hiring.

  • Has the candidate tried their hand at running their own business or freelancing? You’re looking for an individual who has the capacity to set goals and self-motivate to accomplish them.
  • Has the candidate worked for startups before? While corporate experience can be valuable, someone who waits for instructions and does things by the book can be a detrimental trait in a startup environment. That is not to say all corporate work is like that, of course.
  • Are they conversational? Do they share ideas during the interview? You want someone who will openly share suggestions for improving the way things are done to promote a flexible, agile work strategy.
  • Depending on the size of your team, you may not hire to fill technical requirements. You may hire a future project manager. Does the individual seem like someone who would be good at managing and communicating with a small workforce?

Be flexible and open-minded about the process.

As you develop your team, you’ll hire people that may be used to a different way of working than the way your company currently operates. Be open to suggestions, and take some time to discuss these ideas. This can be as simple as offering to spend 30 to 60 minutes after work talking about ideas. Your employees will be happy to stick around if it means they can help shape the way they work.

Give your employees ownership over their work.

Avoid micromanagement and give your employees the tools they need to get the job done. Giving your team effective tools that they enjoy using is going to make them happier and more productive. People do better work when they feel like they’re doing it for themselves. No one wants to produce work that they aren’t proud of themselves. Collaborate together to produce work you are proud of with your team!

Tips for employees

Get to know your boss and team.

Working with a startup has a lot of benefits if there’s a positive work culture. Employees can often share their skills with you, giving you with great development and learning opportunities. It’s also equally important to evaluate and identify your own personal areas that have room for improvement. If weaknesses exist in a team that you’re passionate about improving, it allows you to work towards making that change into a reality.

Establish and prove your value.

You don’t have to know what your value is right now, but you need to find and establish the unique value that you alone can offer to the company. You’re probably going to spend a lot of time filling different roles before you finally find a niche you truly excel at in the startup. Once you find that niche, nail it and become an expert. Do your research outside of work hours. Become the go-to master of that particular field in your company, while still covering your other responsibilities.

Develop an ideal workflow.

Once you’ve found your place in the company, don’t hesitate to negotiate the terms of your position. Not only will you be delivering on the conditions you were initially hired for, but you’ll have picked up new skills that allow you to go above and beyond your job description. Whether you’d like to discuss flexible hours, remote work, or a pay raise, an employer that sees the value you’re bringing to the company will be happy to discuss these things with you. Negotiations like this have potential to not only benefit you, They can increase your productivity and motivation to go the next step further, resulting in a better return for the company.

Kyle Strong is a marketing coordinator at Tradogram. He volunteers for events held by Startup Canada, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship and small businesses. With a love of innovation and efficiency, Kyle shares ideas that inspire new ways of thinking and bring energy into the workplace.

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