I met Hamish, Money Mover’s CEO, whilst working at the CBI (Confederation of British Industry). My role had focused on relationship management. I was responsible for engaging with existing members and growing the membership base by building relationships with prospective members.
As Money Mover closed its seed funding round, Hamish approached me to ask if I would consider joining the business in order to develop a new partnerships channel. I’d spent the last few years working for large businesses and so the prospect of joining a start up and having a completely blank piece of paper to work from, was a scary one! I knew it would mean that all of the safety barriers I had relied on previously wouldn’t be there; the large team of people around you who helped to make sure everything happened as it should; the knowledge that someone in the organisation had been there and done it and could share their experiences with you.
However, it was ultimately those things that persuaded me to take the leap. As the book says – ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway ®’ I’ve now been in the role for 12 months and as I reflect on the last year I can say that it has been the biggest roller coaster of my life; during which time I’ve learnt a great deal about myself (and others) and about the realities of working in a start-up.
So, in the spirit of transparency, an attribute upon which Money Mover prides itself, I thought I would share these with you: 1. I’m a tough cookie When I first started out on my career path, most situations could reduce me to a quivering wreck. Don’t get me wrong – I always had the ability to not let it show. I was the proverbial swan gliding gracefully along whilst paddling furiously under the surface. Somewhere along the way, I’d acted it out for so long that I actually became that person who could deal with any situation with poise and composure. This is certainly a skill that has been helpful in a start-up.
2. Have faith in yourself and others My career has given me access to a wide variety of people and roles, all of whom have had a critical role to play in the organisation they work for. The reality is that each and every one of those people has suffered from a degree of self-doubt from time to time. The skill is knowing that you are perfectly capable of doing the job you have been employed to do – and so is everyone else around you. Within a start-up environment this becomes even more important because there simply isn’t enough of you. Each and every person within the business has an important contribution to make.
3. Don’t take yourself too seriously You may, like us here at Money Mover, want to change the world but make sure you have fun doing it.
4. Don’t be afraid of failure We live in a society which drums a fear of failure to us from a young age. In a start-up there will be things that you fail at – there is no escaping it. Not everything that you do is going to be a roaring success. But, viewing every failure as an opportunity to learn has allowed me to approach the next situation with greater confidence. The last 12 months have been an accelerated learning curve for that reason.
5. There is no hiding In a small team there is simply nowhere to hide. Much like my observation in point 2, each and every one of you has to make it count. There is no room for off days and this isn’t the environment for anyone who wants to coast in their day-to-day life.
6. Get comfortable with the unknown. My husband loves routine. He puts his clothes on in the same order every day, eats the same thing for lunch everyday. If you are that person my advice is that you don’t join a start up. No two days are the same and you never know what’s round the corner.
7. There are never enough hours in the day I have an unwavering optimism about how much I’m going to achieve in any given day and any given week. And without exception I never get as much done as I think I’m going to. The reality is that in a business like this there is often a curve ball that comes along to be dealt with or things simply take longer because it’s a new problem that we haven’t encountered before. I never get to the bottom of my to-do list and that’s okay.
8. It’s okay to not have the answer As I mentioned in my introduction, one of the advantages of of working for a larger business is that inevitably if you come up against a problem or situation you don’t quite know how to resolve, there is someone in the business who you can turn to. In a start-up you don’t have that luxury and it can feel that you have to have all the answers. The reality is that you won’t sometimes. The skill is knowing that and giving yourself the time to think things though, talk to colleagues and peers, and figure it out as a team.
9. There’s only one of you – so look after yourself When I was preparing to join Money Mover, a friend who had previously worked at a senior level in start-ups, told me that ‘the treadmill won’t stop, so make sure you get off the treadmill from time to time’. It’s proved to be sound advice. There is never a good time to take holiday or be ill but ultimately looking after myself has meant that I’ve been able to make a more positive contribution to the team.
Linked to number 7 is also the fact that I try not to worry about what hasn’t been done. After all, there is always tomorrow.