Tech Tips

Top 8 tips to succeed as an engineer in a startup

Jeff Bolton

Top 8 tips to succeed as an engineer in a startup: Think like an entrepreneur

If you’re considering stepping into the dynamic world of startups as an engineer, the typical engineering mindset might not always serve you best. Here are some tips on how to bridge the gap between traditional engineering and the fast-paced startup ecosystem.

1. Shift your perspective:

First and foremost, abandon the confined lens of a traditional engineer. Instead, embrace the broad, agile, and often uncertain viewpoint of an entrepreneur. This shift means anticipating challenges and being ready with multiple solutions even before they arise.

2. Be part of the ideation:

Many engineers tend to wait for problems to solve or specifications to implement. When you’re part of a startup, dive headfirst into brainstorming sessions. Learn to gauge effort, complexity, risk, and maintainability of new features. Always be in the loop and understand where the business is headed.

3. Voice your opinions:

It’s not enough to be a silent observer. If you believe there’s abetter way to achieve something, speak up. As a founder, I’d rather have my engineers tell me; “This idea might take too long. Let’s try this other approach,” than watch them silently go down a bad route.

4. Embrace constructive pushback:

Innovation often arises from friction. Pushback, when given constructively, can lead to refining ideas, eliminating pitfalls, and eventually, a better product.

5. Short-term vs. long-term:

While engineering education might instill the virtues of creating long term solutions, in a startup, you’re usually building for the immediate fiscal quarter. It’s crucial to strike a balance between your long-term engineering instincts and the entrepreneurial need for speed and adaptability.

6. Master the Art of Resourcefulness:

In the startup world, resources – be it time, money, or people power – are always limited. Complaining won’t get you far. Innovating within these constraints will.

7. Embrace the unknown:

In a startup, the unknowns often outweigh the knowns. Instead of dreading them, embrace them. See them as opportunities to learn, adapt, and grow.

8. Remember to have fun:

While the stakes might be high, it’s essential to enjoy the journey. After all, startups are as much about the adventure as they are about the destination.

The road to success as an engineer in a startup isn’t just about honing your technical skills. It’s about expanding your horizons, thinking like an entrepreneur, and being an active participant in the journey.
Jeff Bolton is Higlobe’s Chief Technology Officer and Co-founder. He has 15 years of engineering experience, 13 of which are in early to mid stage startups. He lives in Los Angeles with his family, cat and dog.

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