Before you dismiss working in a startup or small business as too risky, too limiting or too ‘beneath you’, listen to former sea king pilot Will Orme give his account of working in this burgeoning industry – for all its perceived risks, you may be surprised to hear he finds ‘everyday exciting’ and is continually learning new skills.
Opportunity to learn new things
Will Orme is the first to admit his ego was ‘big enough’ to think he could do better than a startup. Initially, he pursued the more traditional route of attending industry days in corporate companies but was blown off his trajectory when he was approached by a tech startup on LinkedIn.
Will says: “It’s certainly not limited my longterm career potential as I’ve learnt more in the past 18 months than I think I would have done, in a larger business, over a longer period.”
He notes that it can be easy to get sidetracked by big money and status commenting: “I think sometimes this can be linked to your rank in the Services. It’s important to leave that behind and not get hung up on it.”
Startups can be perceived as risky but as Will is keen to emphasise: “If you believe in the product and service you’re selling, you’re on to a winner. Be prepared to back yourself and be the master of own destiny – if you do this properly, the company will fly.”
He adds: “In comparison, this process can take longer in some larger companies. In a smaller business you can make a more immediate impact.”
Taking the helm
In Will’s earlier days of job hunting, he found looking at job descriptions a ‘bit depressing’, as people are often looking for ‘specific skillsets’. In a small business you can learn a broad range of skills from selling, HR and planning. This particularly suits those who enjoy the challenge of continual learning.
Within a small organisation, as you’re less likely to be reliant on a third party, there is more opportunity to throw up ideas, learn by trial and error, and experiment in whichever way you see fit.
Will reiterates a key point that many of our webinar speakers make: “This isn’t a frightening prospect for officers. Taking the ‘commander’s intent and making it happen’ is a familiar scenario for us.” He adds: “I realise I took it for granted that I’m not so concerned with being questioned or getting it wrong.”
Will advises researching companies that you think you’ll find interesting, then arranging an introduction. He says: “Use email, or even better, just show up and ask if you can find out more over a coffee. Do not be too fawning!” He adds a note of caution too: “Use your ability to get a sense of the people you’ll be working with. Take nothing on looks, everything on evidence – there’s no better rule.”