Time To Downsize? – Joining a start-up


After 8 years in the staffing industry, I’m finally getting around to publishing my first post (so go easy on me…).  This isn’t the result of any Eureka-type moment, but more a symptom of my recent change of employer.  With a return to my home city of Nottingham on the cards and a desire to work for more than one company before I reach 30, my decision to join Animate Search was driven by several personal and professional factors.  Of these, possibly the one which resonates most with many of the professionals we engage with is the opportunity to be part of a start-up.
According to Companies House data, there were over 650,000 new businesses registered in 2016 – the entrepreneurial spirit is clearly strong throughout the UK, but should you take the leap and join up with a start-up or SME?  The motivations for doing so can vary wildly, as can the associated challenges, opportunities and lessons, some of which I’ll explore below.
 
Autonomy is great There’s no room for micromanagement in a SME environment; most professionals are hired because they’re trusted to do a job and are empowered to make decisions independently.  Sales professionals in particular, often become frustrated with the endless KPIs, reporting and meetings that accompany being part of a large enterprise.  In general, there is just less “noise” – Animate are a small firm, not weighed down with internal politics or personality clashes – we are able to focus our collective energy on doing the best job possible for our candidates and customers.
Flexibility works both waysWith a fledgling business often comes an unconventional work life/balance, which can be both a blessing and a curse; there’ll be times when you’ll be putting in more hours than ever before, but with a typical working day being less defined, you can often make the hours work around the rest of your life.  The team at Animate spend much of the week working remotely, with nothing to distract from doing great work for our customers.
Getting out your comfort zoneThe opportunities to grow professionally at a start-up can be significant – both in your area of expertise and in other domains too. Start-ups typically place loads of responsibility on their employees. They’ll hire you because of your skills, but founders will expect much more and expect you to live and breathe their brand just as they do.  You help with everything at a start-up – often it’s work well outside your job description, so opportunities for learning and development abound, although it won’t always be an easy ride.  Even if you end up going back to a larger corporate later down the line, undoubtedly your time with a SME will be enriching professionally.
Although it’s early days with Animate, I can tell I’m going to learn a lot with numerous additional responsibilities (as well as discovering that spending too much time in my own company is not always healthy!)  No longer supported, by extensive finance, IT and marketing functions, there’s no longer any room for the “it’s not my job” mentality.
Agility Exists –  I have often heard stories from salespeople who failed to land a piece of business, not because of their employer’s inability to deliver a piece of work, but the lack of speed with which a proposal or document was sent out. Bureaucracy, red-tape and endless processes are well intentioned, but can feel like a hindrance to getting the job done.  Not so with a start-up – often the whole business will pull together to rapidly put together a winning bid to secure the all-important next project ahead of the competition.
Impactful Contributions –  I wonder how many of the employees of FTSE100 businesses genuinely feel they can affect their employer’s strategy or overall success?  When I joined Animate Search, the number of consultants increased by 50%– how could this result in anything other than a change for the business!  Professionals often complain about being “just a number” in their employer and don’t always feel fully bought in to the company’s mission.  Joining a small business turns this dynamic on its head; the company’s success is more correlated to your own individual input than ever before.  Ultimately, much of what you do in a SME will be new ground and the potential for this to be career-rewarding is far greater – it is a classic risk vs reward scenario
The Status Quo is there to be challenged – Most businesses are born out of the idea that a product or service can be delivered better than it is currently. Innovative thinking is at the core of the SME world and by entering, you’ll be surrounding yourself with professionals dedicated to moving the industry forwards.  To be successful you’ll need to be selling on excellent service, with customers often reticent to go with a relatively unknown brand.  As the old adage goes, “nobody ever got fired for buying IBM”…
As an SME, Animate is no different; the recruitment industry is being squeezed on all sides, as many organisations move to a managed service/ fully outsourced model.  To achieve the desired efficiencies, often through the use of technology, we feel that candidate experience is less personable than ever before and this is what we look to address: our company exists with one mission – to Animate the Search for candidates and customers alike.

 
Is it for me?
The reality of start-up companies is that won’t suit everyone depending on personal circumstances, whilst one individual’s cons may be another person’s pros. Joining Animate was always going to be an opportunity with risk, but one that excites me every day when I see what we can achieve.  If you have taken a similar leap recently, then I hope you make a real success of it; even if it isn’t, you will undoubtedly walk away with a unique experience to take forward with your future endeavours.  I’d be keen to hear of other experiences (both good/bad).
If you’re a start up looking to grow or a sales professional looking to downsize your employer, then get in touch and see how we can Animate your search.
 
Published by Jonathan Panto – Senior Search Consultant and newest addition to the Animate family