min read

Why working at a startup can be a fulfilling experience

There is something special about working at a startup. Startups are revolutionising industries and it can be fulfilling to be part of their mission and to experience the presence of their soul.

November 5, 2021
Levente Szegedi
December 17, 2021

There is something special in a startup. Founders and employees sense its presence. But what is it and how can it boost your motivation and happiness? 

The startup culture trinity

A startup has a soul. According to Ranjay Gulati, Harvard Business School Professor, the three elements that construct the soul of a startup are Employee Experience, Customer Connection, and Business Intent. Firstly, there is a special employee experience due to higher autonomy, unusual creativity, and possibility to influence key decisions. These foster higher employee engagement. Secondly, especially at early stages, an unusually close relationship with customers is present. This is because founders and employees feel personally connected to their clients' problems and needs which unleashes their energy and drive to help. The third dimension of the soul - a startup's business intent - is the animating purpose, the reason for being, the desire to "make history" and be part of something bigger. 

Being part of something bigger 

Every startup is a mini-revolution. Fairphone is revolutionising the smartphone supply chain. Hiber is revolutionising Internet of Things applications. Dyme is revolutionising personal finances. Being part of something bigger and inducing a mini-revolution puts meaning behind every day's actions. This is why the founder happily trades his secure job for a riskier but more meaningful startup project and the CTO manages to finish the code today not tomorrow. After all, we all want to leave our mark and pursue something meaningful. A startup is usually working towards something meaningful, towards its purpose.

Why having a purpose matters

Buying those trendy shoes could make us happy for a week. A new phone maybe even for a month. Pleasure works only for a brief moment. We say to ourselves that once we have achieved x we'll be happy forever but when we get there we realise it was not enough. How can we make happiness last longer? As renowned entrepreneurs Gary Keller and Jay Papasan have put it in their great book, The One Thing (p.144), "the surest path to achieving lasting happiness happens when you make your life about something bigger, when you bring meaning and purpose to your everyday actions". Well, it is indeed about the journey, not the outcome. About the happiness of the pursuit. Only by working towards a meaningful purpose can we achieve lasting happiness, that is not tied to physical objects or other conditions. A startup’s mission is  such a purpose, capable of rewarding those working towards the mission, with lasting happiness.

The easy path?

All this is not to mean that spending your days at a startup will be all rainbows and butterflies. In a hoodie, sipping Mountain Dew, being cool and easy. That's just in the movies. What people do at successful startups and scaleups is hard work. Going against the status quo and bringing something new and valuable to the world is a very challenging undertaking. It requires massive effort, day after day. Yet, being on this mission together will provide everyone on board a reason to jump out of bed in the morning feeling motivated. It will light up the inner fire. It will provide a purpose. And most importantly, it will induce happiness on the journey to fulfilment.

We thank you for reading. Hope we could provide you with some valuable insights. Until next time!

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