Friends, colleagues ask me for advice about what’s a good place to work at. This blog post is about that. Hope it helps.
“People is the most important thing” is a cliché people know about, say it (all the time) but not follow necessarily. I’m telling you because I see it all the time. People think they should leave jobs or join jobs because the product is bad or good, or because the company got funded or not, or because it’s a huge market or small.
I disagree, I think it’s Yada Yada times 1,000. And I’ll explain.
When you work in a very fast environment (digital startup), meaning you don’t sell hardware to Verizon with a sales cycle of 3 years and 5 years contract — then you have to realize that the professional environment you live in is very dynamic. If it’s not, good chances you’ll be looking for a job because the company will be out of business sooner than you can finish reading this blog post.
Ok, so things move fast, what does it mean?
It means that a really good company is able to be as big as a titanic (with cannons and perception, with clients and demand, with growth and good competitors trying to take their business) — but still be as dynamic/fast as a Kobe Bryant when he is on fire. Fail and try again, be dynamic, smart and fast — until the company hits that line of business that the company thinks is “it” and it’s time to double down and scale with less moving around. (“he shoots, he scores”).
What allows a company to be dynamic, fail, retry, adapt, re-invent and win? People.
By definition, the product would have to change. Market size is changing as the product is different and addressed at different audiences, and honestly I’ve seen companies spend tens of millions of dollars going against the wall so having an amazing VC with a pile of cash in the bank account is important, but definitely not a reason to celebrate.
If product is changing, and if market-size is changing, and if finance comes and goes – what stays? People. The main thing that you should care about is who will you see every day. Are they energetic? Intelligent? Are they passionate? Will they allow a product to adapt? Will they admit that they are wrong? Will they allow you to take the keys and give it your best shot even if you fail? Will they get constructive to help you get better when you fail? Will you have a good time with them? ….Are they winners? You know a winner when you see one.
What people did in their previous job is much less important than who they are now and how you feel about it. Take the time to talk, get to know them, ask them questions, professional and somewhat not professional, what do they do for fun, and let them ask you questions so you can see how they think. “Fall in love”. Don’t fall for the famous mistake of “they were a C-level employee at __” so I should work for them (or hire them if you’re hiring people). People that hang (too tight) to their previous life usually have less to demonstrate now, so while it’s definitely great to work with experienced people – it should not be what you make your decision on.
If you have to bet. Bet people. Then good product (that will change). Then big market (that will change). Then money to pay the bills (that will change). Any other order in my humble opinion is a risk. Good luck !