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Are startups addictive?

Wednesday, 17 December 2014 | By Clare Hallam

Working in a startup can be harsh, fast paced and often extremely chaotic. Nothing is certain. A startup won’t provide the same comforts offered by the 9 to 5 job in a large corporation, yet more and more ‘intrapreneurs’ are choosing to escape the corporate cubicle to join the entrepreneur revolution that is occurring across the globe. So what is it that attracts us to startups?


I imagine there are quite a few that aspire to be the next Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs, others that seek the freedom of being their own boss. And others who simply just land a job in a startup because they meet a founder who offered them something that looked kind of interesting.


I got into startups by accident, I was at a point in my life where my kids were quickly growing into beautiful adults and I was looking for a new challenge to throw myself at. I was asked if I’d be interested in helping out a startup, a day or so a month and that was my introduction to a whole new way of thinking and working.


I had to quickly adapt, being amongst smart entrepreneurs, pushing ideas, testing the status quo, challenging everything and anything in order to find leaner, smarter solutions meant that I too, needed to start to think the same way. In large organisations, bureaucracy and layers of governance slow thinking and the ability to act at speed. Working in a startup empowers you to make changes, to shake up the old school way of doing things in order keep up with the speed of change that is happening around you.


Of course there are down sides, often you work long hours, spinning many plates, seven days a week. Although it can be gruelling, the feeling of working together to make a difference and create something amazing keeps you pushing forward. Yesterday I mentioned the subject of this article to several entrepreneurs, they each smiled at me and agreed that startups are addictive. I didn’t ask them why they thought that as I think we all know our own reasons why we each get sucked into this space.


There is an extremely fine line between loving your work and being addicted to it. I wonder how many people working in startups stop and ask themselves if they have a healthy balance between startups, family, friends and themselves? I thought I was smart enough to just keep that balance and that I didn’t need to question myself. I thought I had it under control; I was wrong, I’d crossed that fine line without knowing.


Getting the balance back takes a lot of hard work. Looking back as another year draws to a close my biggest regret is not stopping regularly to check in on my balance. I’m finding that by allowing myself time for stillness my balance is slowly returning.


As you break for festive season ask yourself are you addicted to startups? Allow yourself to unplug from the internet and check in on your personal balance.

Clare Hallam is a Startup Operations Specialist.

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