Startups have seen unprecedented growth in recent years and changed the way the world does business, ushering in new business models and technologies while helping job growth.
This evolution initially benefited younger generations, but positive changes have spread and we now have multigenerational work ecosystems that have bring added value to both startups and traditional companies.
Banks, corporations, investment funds and family offices via venture capital have found new ways to diversify their investments into innovation thanks to a wave of entrepreneurial proposals that has challenged the status quo.
These investors want to validate, optimize and scale the value of each solution as quickly as possible, seeking an agile market penetration that increases the value of the company and somehow shields its territory, often leaving aside profitability in the early stages; a model very distinct to what we have seen in the past.
The startup culture is focused on accelerated growth where execution based on continuous experimentation is fundamental
Funds entrust millions of dollars to such ventures to achieve the expected results. Most entrepreneurial leaders, upon receiving funding, face two main challenges: first, having a clear path to achieve the objectives; second, the development or acquisition of capabilities to execute and manage it in the best way.
The startup culture is focused on accelerated growth where execution based on continuous experimentation is fundamental. At first, hiring young talent with a digital native, fresh and innovative profile seemed to be the only way to achieve this. But startups soon realized they faced inexperience and needed to attract talent with a longer career path to accelerate this desired growth.
This transition has not been as easy. Startups, being faithful to their philosophy of experimentation, began to hire more senior profiles with more experience in their field. Much of this talent was found in traditional companies with totally different methodologies and work cultures. The result was ‘total learning’ in three main ways, which we outline below.
Hard Skills at Startups
New methodologies to create, execute, measure and optimize process have brought about the rapid development of new technologies and businesses the world now enjoys. But creating and growing a company so fast is like having a blank page; there is a lot to build quickly and few obvious ways to achieve it.
Therefore, continuous learning has become an essential avenue to keep professional up-to-date on skills.
Various online platforms, new digital schools, specialized media, newsletters, blogs and social networking groups have played an essential role in the development of skills for all age segments and have opened endless possibilities for self-taught and resilient people who understand that the context has changed and that they need to make an extra effort.
Development of Soft Skills
In any startup office we can observe up to four generations working together in an environment led by young entrepreneurs, most of them between 25 and 45 years old. This situation brings with it certain key considerations to ensure that the work environment is optimal.
At startups, managerial structures are usually more matrixed and less hierarchical
This is not to say that this is unique to the startup world. But the big difference lies in who is leading and how they collaborate within the organization. Nowadays, it is very common to see a 30-year-old entrepreneur leading teams with people over 40 with more experience than them. But the managerial structures are usually more matrixed and less hierarchical.
Therefore, the development of leadership skills in directive and managerial positions is critical, albeit not yet common, in order to develop empowered teams capable of better decision making and execution.
It is increasingly common to have a diverse team engaging in dialogue, challenging each other and making decisions together. As an example, a Gen Z executive that in a traditional company would require at least five years to reach a decision-making level, will be in daily direct interactions with the millennial CEO or even with Gen X or Baby Boomer investors.
The development of hard and soft skills is a continuous process, both personal and shared with the company. In this sense, structuring a good organizational culture in favor of the development and performance of the teams is very important.
We have all read or heard about digital companies concerned about having recreational facilities, original benefits such as SPA days, unlimited vacation days, pizza and beer Fridays, among others, and all for the welfare of employees.
It is increasingly common to have a diverse team engaging in dialogue, challenging each other and making decisions together
This environment, a little more relaxed than the corporate world, has been very attractive for a certain segment of the economically active population. However, over the last few years, concepts such as corporate social responsibility, having clear objectives and well-defined roles, agile processes, professional development, meritocracy and others, have grown in prominence across the general corporate world.
As time goes by, we acquire knowledge and experience that allows us to make more informed decisions. A few years ago, how we thought about startups was very different from what we are witnessing today. We have seen an evolution and professionalization that has given greater confidence to investors, entrepreneurs and collaborators. This will undoubtedly bring with it more investment, more jobs and with it a more responsibility to continue improving the way the world does business.