Your startup is a rocket ship

July 1, 2012starting up

When you’re building a startup, the startup itself has a reputation and credibility around it. The startup has tremendous power. As the startup rocket ship takes off, the best thing you can do is to cling onto the edge of the rocket ship and get the most out of it that you can.

Help people get the most out of the startup

The most important reason I want to encourage “clinging onto the rocket ship” is because I believe it is the best way for the individual people on the team to get the most out of the lifetime of the startup.

Each person can use the rocket ship to further their own reputation

My co-founder Leo put this best when I discussed it with him:

"Everyone in the team already has a reputation internally. Through blogging, Tweeting, doing interviews or speaking, they can make this reputation an external one too."

It’s vital for everyone in the team to become comfortable putting themselves out there. We try to encourage this at Buffer by helping each other in an “improvements” section of of our daily Skype call.

Everyone has a chance for enormous personal growth

By choosing to take hold of the rocket ship and cling on for the ride, everyone in the team gives themselves a chance to grow personally much faster than they could by any other means.

"you can think of a startup as a way to compress your whole working life into a few years" - Paul Graham

Everyone in the team has a chance to develop their core strengths further, becoming domain experts. They also have the opportunity to develop skills which aren’t their natural focus.

If things begin to work, the startup will become well-known. That’s a given. Whether you become well-known is optional. It’s completely up to you.

Examples to be inspired by

Some of the people who I’ve seen continually grab hold of the startup rocket ship are Kevin Rose with Digg, Dan Martell with Flowtown (and now Clarity), and Cindy Alvarez with KISSmetrics and other compaines. Be sure to follow them to learn from the best.

Everyone in your startup is a marketer

The other reason I encourage everyone in the team to cling onto the rocket ship is that Leo and I have found this is actually a really great way to do marketing for the startup.

The Buffer rocket ship

Everyone on the team does an awesome job of clinging on to the rocket ship.

For example, Tom's recent post was noticed by MongoDB who we’re now speaking lots with, and he’s been invited to speak at an event about how we use MongoDB.

Therefore, I try my best to encourage everyone in the team to grab hold of the rocket ship. Here’s something I said to Alyssa who has amazing knowledge, experience and insights about customer happiness which I hope she will soon start to share:

"I’d also very much encourage you to get as much as you can for yourself in terms of "reputation". I sometimes see Buffer as a rocket ship which I’m desperately clinging onto and using to catapult myself as high as possible, both in terms of personal development and in terms of opening further opportunities down the line. The higher a reputation we all have individually as well as Buffer as a whole, the easier it is to "get in" to places we need to."

Examples to be inspired by

Two compaines which have somehow managed to create a phenomenal culture of encouraging their team to “cling onto the rocket ship” are HubSpot and 37signals.

When the rocket ship is soaring and everyone is watching it, be sure to shout about the fact you’re helping to fly it. When the rocket lands back on Earth at the end of its journey and people’s memories of it start to fade, you want to have gained as much as you can and have people recognise you individually. That way, the next rocket can be bigger and more ambitious.

Are you clinging onto the rocket ship of your startup?

Photo credit: Matthew Simantov

Thanks for reading

If you have any comments or feedback on this article, I’d love to hear from you. The best way to reach me is on Twitter.

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