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Expect Your Role to Broaden When Going From Corporate to Startup

What changes can you expect in your role when you're moving over to a startup company? Justwomen panelists Emily Menchel and Elizabeth Galbut give some advice.

Blog Author - Justworks
Justworks
May 17, 20163 minutes
Blog Author - Justworks
Justworks

Justworks is a technology company that levels the playing field for all small businesses. Through our software and as a partner, we help our customers take care of their teams, streamline their operations, and navigate the complex aspects of managing a workforce with confidence.

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Making the leap from a corporate work environment to a startup is more than just a career change — it’s also a lifestyle change. You’ll have the chance to expand your role and make a big impact at a smaller company, for better or worse. We got advice from Justwomen panelists Emily Menchel and Elizabeth Galbut, who both experienced firsthand how their roles shifted after making the switch. Emily Menchel spent six years practicing corporate law before she became General Counsel for the startup Persado, and Elizabeth Galbut began her career at Deloitte Consulting before founding her own venture capital startup, SoGal Ventures. Emily and Elizabeth will share more on going from the corporate world to startup life at the next Justwomen event on May 18. Interested in attending?

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Work Responsibilities from Corporate to Startup

Not sure what to expect once you’ve made the switch? Here are just some tips for adjusting to your new role when entering a startup environment.

Embrace Ownership

Owning projects from end-to-end is not as common in the corporate world, due to its larger, more bureaucratic nature. In a newer company, you’ll have more ownership over impactful projects.

At Persado, for instance, Menchel advises on legal issues ranging from international law to data privacy and intellectual property. But it’s not just law she practices. She’s also on the management team and involved in business strategy. “In a startup, there is tremendous opportunity for people to take ownership of their roles and immerse themselves in the company and expand their job descriptions,” said Menchel. “People value initiative and recognize when you go above and beyond for the benefit of the company as a whole.” Prepare yourself to take on more responsibility — along with more opportunities for growth — to get big projects across the finish line.

Build Your Own Structures

Corporate businesses have been around for longer and have more processes in place to ensure checks and balances. Not so in many new companies. “Since roles are less formal and people need to pitch in above and beyond their specific job descriptions, it usually means that there are fewer formal processes in place,” said Menchel. Lack of process may feel like a frustrating lack of organization or structure. But that lack of process offers an unprecedented opportunity to build new procedures as the company grows. If you’re hoping to steer the direction of your company, view it as an opportunity to do so.

Find Purpose in General Skillsets

Embrace a variety of tasks at your new job and you’ll find a worthy challenge. Dennis Flanagan, editor of Scientific American, put it this way: “In an age of specialization people are proud to do one thing well, but if that is all they know about, they are missing out on much else life has to offer.” Working on a small team, you’ll hone in on everything from refining HTML in HubSpot to defining the sales funnel and planning the company retreat — which will certainly keep life exciting. “If you’re a proactive person, you’re able to get years of experience in a few months because you’re able to touch all aspects of a business,” said Galbut. “In a corporate environment, you might be on a certain team — whether it’s finance or accounting or marketing — and you’re really focused on one subject.”

Find Ways to Decompress

Expanded responsibility is an exciting for prospect for anyone looking to grow their career, but it also comes with overwhelming expectations to perform. As a business owner, Galbut experiences this herself whenever an unexpected event occurs. “You’re always on. If you get sick, there might not be anybody else to do it,” said Galbut. “It’s definitely a lot less flexible in that sense, and it’s very risky.”

There’s a reason people on small teams need time off. Limited resources and limited personnel will leave a lot on your shoulders, but it’s important to know when to slow down. Set up safeguards when needed and make time for the occasional vacation. Even taking brief breaks over the course of 50 minutes will vastly improve your focus, according to a study by the University of Illinois. Startup culture lifts the gates on restrictions and traditional corporate rules, but with that comes added pressure to succeed and make a difference in your company. Prepare yourself to juggle roles and take on extra ownership, and don’t forget to enjoy the ride.

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.
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Blog Author - Justworks
Justworks
May 17, 20163 minutes

Justworks is a technology company that levels the playing field for all small businesses. Through our software and as a partner, we help our customers take care of their teams, streamline their operations, and navigate the complex aspects of managing a workforce with confidence.

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