5 Ways to Learn at a Startup

5 Ways to Learn at a Startup

We’ll say it straight – startups are hectic (in a great way 😉). While juggling the present and planning for the future, it’s tricky to find a spare moment to think about how to make the most of the experience. Undoubtedly, working at a startup can be a gold mine of information and education that could help you not just to survive, but to thrive. The key? Education. If you’re not learning on the job or doing your best to observe and develop, you could fall by the wayside. 

With that in mind – and to help you make the most of such a rich, rewarding and, frankly, unique business environment – we’ve gathered five of the best ways to learn when working at a startup.

1. Take on new challenges and responsibilities

In small teams, the person who stands up and takes on the burden of responsibility can be crucial to success in a given project. Our advice? Be that person. 

Responsibility can be transformative, both professionally and personally, helping you to learn new skills and expand your knowledge base. For those in startups, taking on these new challenges can be deeply rewarding and cast you in a fantastic light to your new team. After all, first impressions count. But what practical steps can you take to embrace these new challenges and responsibilities?

Innovate

Innovation is at the heart of any startup (this is obvious after taking a quick peek through the top startups in the UK). Offering something new, unique and exciting is what the whole gig is about, right? Creating a concrete innovative vision that leads to a new project immediately provides you with responsibility. Not only will you have a big part to play in the project, but you’ll also be extra motivated to succeed. Think outside the box and try to write down a new idea every day. They won’t all be great but, before too long, you’ll stumble upon a winner.

Self-assess

Without looking back, you won’t know how to move forward. How vocal were you in that meeting? Did you have concerns you didn’t voice? Were you stepping up for the good of the team? Grab a pen and paper and make a habit of going over your performance at work on a daily basis. Pretty soon you’ll notice patterns and areas in your workplace where you could take some more responsibility.

Speak up

If you want to develop your professional career at a startup, being silent shouldn’t be an option. At every meeting, be the first to volunteer as a point of habit. Take time to prep before each meeting so that you’re armed with thoughtful questions and ideas. Making a habit of vocalizing your thoughts will naturally pull responsibility in your direction.

Startupland provides you with the opportunities to embrace these challenges, offering you a chance to prove yourself that would be out of reach at larger companies. If you’re finding it tough, always remember that you’ll be a better person for bearing the responsibility.

2. Collaborate with your colleagues

If you’re riding solo on a project, you’re severely limiting your learning opportunities. Working closely with others at a startup, especially those who have different areas of expertise, can be an enriching way for employees to learn from one another. 

There are more than a few ways to collaborate, too. Here are a few tips to help you do it efficiently:

🥪 Plan and host lunch and learns to discuss projects in an informal setting

📚 Create discussions with shared reading lists that help to get colleagues on the same page

👀 Try to cultivate an environment of transparency when working on projects

🙂 Stay judgment-free and encourage the discussion of new ideas

The experiences of collaborating and working with others at startups can be deeply enriching for your personal development but they might not always be super successful. Don’t be disheartened by collaborations that don’t bear fruit – simply learn from the experience so that your collaborations are better in future.

And, as mentioned above, always try to encourage transparency and minimal judgment, so you and your co-workers can learn openly from each other. If this collaborativeness can be cultivated in a startup, the stars are the limit for both the business and your own career development.

3. Seek out learning opportunities

If you want to develop into a successful professional, learning shouldn’t stop when leaving the office. Attending conferences, workshops or other events related to your field can be incredibly valuable. We also recommend joining online communities and forums, subscribing to certain newsletters and staying committed to networking (you don’t need us to tell you that LinkedIn is your best friend in this regard).

Understandably, the number of opportunities to learn can feel overwhelming, especially when you’re knee-deep at work. In our opinion, self-directed learning is the answer. That’s where Framework – the world's first on-demand business school – comes in.

Tailored exclusively to those working in Startupland, the Framework app provides users with access to carefully curated libraries of content – how-tos, classic Frameworks, methodologies and more – all designed to help professionals navigate Startupland and de-risk the startup journey.

Our app is specifically designed to enable users to learn at their own pace, choosing topics of interest across three literacies — Human, Business and Tech. All of our content is designed in collaboration with top startup operators, in order to help our users tackle the challenges and questions they face day-to-day. The best part? It’s all delivered in quick-to-consume, swipeable cards (you’ll learn something new in 15 minutes or less) and supported by live events. Intrigued? Read through our About Us page to learn more and join the waitlist today.

4. Stay up to date with industry developments

Staying in the know regarding industry developments shouldn’t be optional. It’s essential that you understand the intricate ins and outs of your industry to thrive within your workspace. This outside information will gradually inform all of your decisions moving forward. In that sense, staying up to date with the latest news in your industry is vital for learning and developing simultaneously. Here are a few ways to stay informed:

Twitter

Ah, yes – the world’s most notorious social media app. Whether we like it or not, Twitter is a popular source for breaking news across all industries. Following the right people can keep you at the very forefront of new industry developments, ensuring that you stay ahead of the pack.

Newsletters

Newsletters have been around for years and they aren’t going away any time soon. As with Twitter, discovering the best newsletters within your industry can be a free way to pick up slices of information. Don’t be afraid to read more niche newsletters either – they can often contain more unique and original perspectives.

Networking

Whatever happened to good old-fashioned, in-person networking? This skill isn’t only useful from a personal development perspective – it can be a fantastic way to access insider information on your industry. Once that initial connection is made with another professional in your industry, make sure to keep the relationship growing in order to reap the rewards.

5. Ask for feedback

It’s no secret that true, deep learning only occurs when we look back on ourselves with honesty. However, you shouldn’t just rely on yourself to provide that honest feedback. Asking your superiors or colleagues for their honest opinion about your performance is invaluable.

Open yourself up to criticism

Criticism is a fundamental part of useful feedback, but opening yourself up to criticism can be uncomfortable, bruising and, occasionally, pretty tough. These difficult moments, when we hear something that we don’t want to hear about our own performance, are where true development and learning lie. Train yourself to be comfortable with criticism – it won’t be quick or easy, but it will surely give you an opportunity to grow.

Don’t sleep on feedback

There’s no use in receiving feedback if you aren’t going to utilize it. We suggest keeping a notebook specifically for this purpose and setting goals related to the feedback you were given. Keep up the consistency and your colleagues and superiors will be sure to notice.

Seek feedback from outside your startup

While feedback from colleagues is imperative, sometimes it’s helpful to find feedback from outside your bubble. The Framework app has a function specifically developed for this very reason. Within the app, users can ask for feedback from the Framework community. This can come in a variety of forms, including one-on-one sessions and posing questions to the entire community. Ultimately, this feedback function can help you find a completely fresh perspective on your performance from similar-minded professionals. Learn more about the app in under 2 minutes by checking out our easy-to-understand video.

Conclusion

Here at Framework, we wholeheartedly believe that the best way to learn when working at a startup is to be proactive and to grasp opportunities that will flourish thereafter. It might not be easy, but it was never supposed to be. By taking on these five points, and using Framework as a guide, you’ll undoubtedly develop successfully as a professional of the future.

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