Last week, I posted the first five of ten immutable laws for employees working in early-stage startups. Here are the rest... enjoy!
6. Thou shalt fit with the team.
Even as a small team, startups tend to have a culture... a worldview that colors how everything is viewed. Opportunity, other startups, risk, partnerships, product development, testing, etc. is all determined largely by the experiences, successes, and failures of the founders. If you find that you simply don't agree with the Founders in a small team dynamic *and* they either can't listen or can't be influenced, you're probably better off just leaving and finding something else to do.
7. Thou shalt be a good steward of the business.
Every startup needs its first employees to (in some way) evangelize the company's raison d'etre... and to clearly communicate the value proposition for the business and/or its products. Every person on the team has a role to play to share some degree of infectious albeit naive enthusiasm about the company. If you aren't naturally a cheerleader, that's fine. Just don't screw up your company's chances by coming off as less than enthusiastic about the business. There's more to this also -- attending social/networking functions, accepting speaking engagements, volunteering time with non-profit causes, etc.
8. Thou shalt learn new skills enthusiastically.
Odds are that your early-stage startup doesn't quite have the staff necessary to do everything it needs to do. Therefore, some critical tasks need to be performed by people who, in larger organizations, would never be given the responsibility because they'd never done it before. Startups are a great place for someone without a clear idea of what they want to do to try a few things. Think of it like a buffet as opposed to a fixed menu at a restaurant. It's an opportunity, not a punishment -- especially for those who view it that way.
9. Thou shalt hunt waste and inefficiency, and kill it ruthlessly.
Show me an early-stage entrepreneur, and I'll show you someone who knows how to utilize resources. Startups often run on a shoestring budget -- so any unnecessary expense (if it can be removed without hurting the business materially) is a bad expense. Everyone on the team should be on the lookout for places where the company can save a little money. The key here is to know where the draw the line, however. You'll need a good sense of the bottom line to understand where a cost savings is good and alternatively where it can hurt to be a penny wise and a pound foolish.
10. Thou shalt work excellently to achieve real progress and with minimal intervention.
Hey, we're all adults. Nobody needs a babysitter. Everyone in your early-stage startup should know the goals of the business, and within reason everyone should be able to task themselves with important work if there is no direction due to travel, illness, or other reason that the CEO is not online. Remember -- you're trying to build a business, not just a cash flow, a pipeline, or a product. As such, the business will need to scale as its early employees are in tune with the goals of the company and can make decisions on its behalf. If you don't have the capacity to do this, you'd better pick it up lest a recent college graduate becomes your boss.