Someone asked me what I have learned in my short time at a startup that I wish I applied on the agency side. 8 things in no particular order.
Do what other people won’t. Gives you a competitive advantage. In advertising we tend to follow (regurgitate words, reframe the same conversations, copy each other). Think about rules you want to break...Uber, AirBNB, Paypal all broke rules. If you can solve a problem with honour do it but don't apologize before you solve it.
Hire animals – people obsessed with their work. You don’t need this in a big company but you do in a small one. But when you hire an animal you get massive results. Try it.
Don't wait for perfection. Launch then pivot. Perfection doesn’t exist. Most people wait too long. GO
Smart is better than sizzle. We like makers vs talkers. Advertising has a lot of talkers. Why? Because we value the homecoming queen vs the nerd. Ok I am over simplifying but I am sure you have met them. "Don Drapers without the talent"
Spend like a saver. Think hard before spending money. I am not pound foolish...but reality is that we waste a ton of money on things that don't add value or things that are over valued. Be prudent, it affords you options. This is a massive life lesson for many in the ad business.
Have hard conversations early on. Like I mean at the hunch stage. I let way too many things go...until they became real problems.
Share often and early. In the ad world we hold information close…in startup world we tend to share more. WAY more productive.
Work with people who have "strong opinions loosely held". Not compromising or sweating every problem is just a waste of time and resources. This is something you can identify early on in the interview process. Too often egos trumps the best ideas.