We hear this statement uttered all of the time and it’s undeniable: “Technology companies either grow or die.”
This is also true of the individual careers of those who work in startups. A unique and evolved perspective is needed from each individual employee for a company on a growth trajectory to see continued success and to scale with a company. This is simply not discussed enough. Employees must also adapt or die (not literally!).
When companies start, early talent is asked to be more ‘jacks-of-all-trades’ yet these individuals must become more focused subject matter experts overnight as growth beckons and specific orgs are developed with functional talent brought on. It’s a weird necessary shift but one that unfortunately many people can’t get their heads around. How come I could do a little bit of everything yesterday, but today I have to be laser focused on one core area? Why was my ingenuity and flexibility celebrated yesterday and today it’s a burden? Why is my new boss riding me to focus, focus, focus?
I’ve been obsessively go-to-market and specifically sales focused throughout my career, it’s my core DNA, yet I’ve had to drastically change my outlook and open/close the aperture as my roles and scope have expanded and contracted over time, and the size and scale of my companies have matured to incredible heights. Being adaptable is an important part of growing your company. This is true for leadership and even more true for those in individual contributor roles. My old boss at Oracle used to call me the definition of a “CXO.” This was a positive and a negative in a company as large as big red. We all acknowledged that, but it also does remind us all that regardless of environment, be the most prepared person at all times.
It’s not supposed to be easy. Adaptability needs to be a priority of all employees in a technology startup and with that self-awareness and perspective needs to be paramount. Communication and open dialogue about this truth can help ease these rapid changes and ensure as a company scales, so does the talent.
Is your company growing or dying? What about your career? Are you focused on your strengths even when asked to do more than your role? Are you staying true to what makes you uniquely you? Be honest with yourself and make a choice on your future.
Scaling is really hard. “Technology companies either grow or die.” It’s important that leadership and staff in a growing business look in the mirror and embrace growth – growth of the company and growth in thyself as well.