10 Top Soft Skills for Working in a Startup

In a startup like us, the most common question we get asked is “What skills do you look for in an employee?” Obviously, we believe that we all have our own technical skills that are specific to each role. Therefore, we decided to take a bit of time to discuss this question with our team to compile what we believe are the most important soft skills you need to succeed in a startup.

As an exciting new company in the technology arena, we are constantly inundated with resumes of talented people who want to join the internationally growing team but we aren’t here to talk about us, we here to help you. So what skills do you need to step up and be the employee that a startup requires:

1) Enthusiasm

First and foremost, being enthusiastic in the workplace is probably one of the most underestimated skills.

Think about it, a person who is enthusiastic about their job is the kind of person who will be able to keep morale high during the rollercoaster ride that is working in a startup company. Being realistic every day isn’t filled with ping pong and brainstorming sessions and it’s during these days where the enthusiast stands out to rally the team, put a smile on peoples faces and helps produce high-quality work. We know from first-hand experience that those with this trait are far more likely to succeed when working with a new up and coming company!

2) Patience

As the famous song by Take That goes “Have a little patience” and a truer statement couldn’t be said when it comes to working in a startup. Especially in this world sometimes things won’t work the first, the second and maybe even the fifth time. But don’t worry about about it, a well run startup never sees failure as a setback, we see it as more of an information-gathering experience. How else would we figure some things out?

Being patience is a hugely important skill when working in this arena. Learning to face your failure, learn from it and to push on again is the sign of an employee who knows what it means to work in the fast past and ever-changing environment of a startup.

If patience isn’t your forte, we recommend taking up meditation, yoga, journaling, walking…basically anything that gives your mind the space to breath and reset before you dive back into the frenzy.

3) Resourcefulness

Most of the time in the startup world you won’t have the time, budget, people power or that super expensive software to create the ideal process for any project. However, this is normal and it’s up to any potential employee to show their value to work with the tools at hand. Being resourceful with what’s around you will not only show your ability to do your job without all the bells and whistles but it’s a trait that will stand to you throughout your career. Make it work and reap the rewards.

4) Humor

Startups are fun and that’s a fact! Is there any job in the world where you’re building the future, innovating, disrupting and at any level have the opportunity to leave your stamp on a company that will last long after you move to pastures new?

That’s basically what working for a startup is all about and sure it’s graft and sure it’s hard work at times, but it’s brilliant fun. You won’t find puppies, ping pong and pizza parties at most 9-5 jobs. Being a person with a good sense of humour will help you enjoy the environment and endear yourself with your small team of colleagues. For us, at Winfooz this is something we consider important as our team is more of a family to us and if you have a good Dad joke or terrible pun to share with us, we are all ears.

5) Scalability

This is one most people won’t think about but it’s massively important, don’t be a busy fool and have to complete a tedious task manually over and over again when you can automate it in some way. Remember this environment is fast and frantic and that extra bit of time can be the difference in another project being a 8 out 10 or a 10 out of 10.

Being scalable means you know when you can build a tool that will help you achieve these tedious tasks up to 10 times faster. For example why manually publish to Facebook every day when you can set up a schedule, do the job once and move onto something else.

If you do this right, you can 10x your output with the same level of input and who doesn’t want that?

6) Curiosity

Being a curious person is a great skill to have if your working in a startup (especially if it’s your first time).

If you score that elusive interview ask questions, show you want to understand the inner workings of the company, what they are doing and where they hope to go. It shows an interest and will also help give you more information to take into your job. Things like knowing how many projects include multiple departments, what is the company structure etc can do a lot to make you stand out from the person who just wants to get in, get paid and get out.

I’m going to go off script slightly for a moment if you don’t mind… So I’m Jon and as you might have guessed I’m the content writer here at Winfooz and in my own personal experience so far I can honestly say being the curious type and touching base with each different department in the company has not only helped me understand the company since the day I began but it’s also made doing my job much easier. I can go to anyone in the company and ask a question and I’ll get an answer as soon as they can, asking questions and being curious in a startup isn’t considered pestering it’s learning.

And to get us back on track, it’s not curiosity that killed the startup cat, in fact it was completely the opposite. Remember this, there is no better way to learn about a company and how it all works than being curious.

7) Flexibility

Thing change literally all the time, that’s just the nature of a startup, get used to it. It’s almost guaranteed that any roadmap you see will be drastically different in a short space of time, it’s how it is and being flexible is going to be an important tool in your arsenal. In a fast paced environment being flexible will help you avoid that sense of whiplash that occurs when plans change suddenly, which they can and will.

Being flexible is more than just dealing with change it’s being willing to change track, shift work hours on the rare occasion it’s needed or just being willing to help with something that’s not necessarily in your job description.

8) Get Comfortable with Chaos

In case you haven’t guessed yet, working in a start up is chaotic… but that’s why it can be so much fun. Whether it’s rushing head first into a dealdline to get our product to market, hitting sales growth numbers or just dealing with dealers, the day to day in any startup is full of twists and turns.

As we said it’s part of what makes working for a company like Winfooz fun. Our developers are always battling the clock to get our latest innovations to market, our marketers are always trying to figure out how to share our message and our sales people are always getting stuck into driving the company forward by finding the right customers for us to work with.

If you join a startup already better equipped to expect these chaotic moments, the big wins will feel even better.

9) Aspiration & Self Improvement

Some might say these are two different points but trust us they are not. We feel that being aspirational and being willing to work on your self improvement go hand in hand. Think about it, how do you hit your aspirations without putting in the work to improve yourself? You don’t.

Being in a startup means your company will be going toe-to-toe with much bigger and better-funded players in the game but you shouldn’t be worried. Be aspirational! Bring that “sky is the limit” attitude to your workplace and show the world what you can do.

Remember even a baby step forward is a step forward and it makes a difference. When talking about self-improvement, it doesn’t have to be leaps and bounds. Say to yourself every day “I will do 1 thing better than I did yesterday”, in a working year that’s about 260 things you are better at than you were a year ago.

Let us use the analogy of money to put this in context, I have a savings jar and every day I go and place $1 in the jar. One day I don’t have the dollar to give. Do I smash open the jar and just give up and say my aspiration/goal is gone or do I go back tomorrow and put the dollar in again and see what I have at the end of the year?

No matter whether it’s a brief without any typos or a presentation with proper formatting, make it a habit to improve every part of your professional persona.

10) Initiative

Last but certainly not least, be the person who can take the initiative! Of all the skills we have listed this is by far the most important! Every single business in the world is working towards its goals but when it comes to a startup, resources are normally limited. That’s where the person who can take the initiative steps up.

While a company is still in its infancy an employee must be a bit of a Jack-of-all-Trades. There more you prove you can grab the bull by the horns and show initiative the more you will find yourself in your bosses good books. So get out, anticipate the problems, figure out what’s needed and take the lead with calculated actions to resolve the issues without needing your boss to hold your hand. Take our word for it, not only will you get that proud sense of accomplishment but your bosses will be impressed and your collegues will want to follow your example.

We hope you find this helpful, whether you are looking for a job with us or another up and coming company. Working in a startup is a fun, fast, sometimes tough but ultimately rewarding career choice and we hope you gained something valuable from this article. If you have any thoughts or opinions you would like to share with us, please get in touch.

We wish you all of the best in your job hun and remember these skills are brilliant to have in any proffesional workplace.