Top 10 Skills You Need for Working in a Startup in India


India boasts of having the third-largest startup ecosystem in the world, witnessing the birth of two to three new startups daily. This is a sign that the startup world in India is growing ahead. Many young professionals prefer Working in a startup because it offers outcomes like fast growth, chances to learn new skills, and perks like flexible work arrangements, paid vacation, and wellness reimbursements. This is particularly true in India. Even though the pandemic forced a lull in job creation, the startup community created almost two million jobs last year– the most in four years.

What are the Most Sought-After Skills in the Startup Industry in India?

Working in startups can be tough. To do well in such a fast-growing and promising field, you need special qualities, like an “X” factor in your employees.  Here are five skills you must have to succeed as a startup professional in today’s competitive job market:

1. Initiative and Proactiveness

In the fast-paced world of startups, time is a precious resource for achieving multiple goals. This is why startups highly value hiring proactive individuals who can swiftly make decisions, even if they only have limited information and resources.  These are the ones who are driven to consistently move forward. This ability helps create effective strategies for reaching goals faster, playing a crucial role in a startup’s expansion journey.

2. Resilience and Adaptability

Resilience is bouncing back from setbacks and adapting to challenges while pursuing one’s objectives doggedly. Even though startups can be in different stages of growth, they always have problems to deal with. To do well despite these big challenges, a startup needs naturally resilient employees who don’t give up easily when things get tough.

3. Initiative to Excel

Everyone is committed to doing more than what’s expected to get good results. To do this all the time, startups need employees who have this attitude. These employees don’t stick to the usual 8-hour workdays since they know it will lead to bigger and better results in the long run.

4. Continuous Learning and Growth

It doesn’t matter how impressive someone’s resume is; they should be willing to start afresh and keep learning. To do well in a startup, staying humble, having a positive attitude, and being open to learning and growing is important. This is especially true in an environment where people’s skills and abilities matter the most.

5. Resourceful and Problem-Solving

People who work in startups have to be careful with the resources at their disposal since most startup owners prefer going lean. Determining problems and using resources wisely is pivotal for getting good results in a startup.

6. Calculated Risk-Taking

Startups often involve taking risks, and not all of these risks end up working out. This is why it’s really important for people who want to work in startups to have a positive attitude. If you want to work in a startup, you should be good at seeing the bright side even when things don’t go as planned.

7. Leadership

Leadership skills encompass guiding and inspiring others toward a common goal. In a startup, leadership extends beyond formal titles; it involves taking the initiative, setting an example, and motivating your team to perform at their best. Effective leadership entails communication, decision-making, problem-solving, and the capacity to adapt to changing circumstances while fostering a positive and collaborative work environment.

8. Critical Thinking Ability

Critical thinking involves analyzing situations objectively, considering various perspectives, and making informed decisions. In a startup, critical thinkers can assess complex challenges, identify potential solutions, and anticipate outcomes. This skill is essential for evaluating risks, optimizing processes, and adapting strategies as the business landscape evolves.

9. Digital Literacy

Effectively using digital tools, technologies, and platforms is a must-have skill.  In a digital-driven startup ecosystem, being digitally literate is crucial for communication, data analysis, marketing, and overall business operations. It involves navigating software, understanding data analytics, using digital marketing platforms, and staying updated with emerging technologies.

10. Communication

Conveying ideas, information, and messages clearly and effectively is crucial to be able to communicate with one’s peers. In a startup environment, strong communication skills are vital for collaborating with team members, presenting ideas to stakeholders, engaging customers, and negotiating partnerships. Written and verbal communication and active listening are essential for fostering relationships and driving the start-up’s growth.

How Can Professionals Develop the Necessary Skills to Succeed in Indian Startups?

1. Embrace Continuous Learning

Stay curious and open to learning about new technologies, trends, and market dynamics in the startup world. For instance, leadership courses offered by Emeritus can help aspirants develop the necessary leadership skills required for working in a start-up.

2. Build a Strong Network

Connect with fellow professionals, mentors, and entrepreneurs within the startup ecosystem. Networking can provide valuable insights, advice, and potential collaboration opportunities.

3. Adaptability and Agility

Develop the ability to adapt quickly to changing situations and take on various roles as needed. Being flexible and agile in your approach will help you navigate the dynamic startup environment.

4. Problem-Solving Attitude

Cultivate strong problem-solving skills and a proactive mindset. Startups often face unique challenges, and individuals who can come up with creative solutions and take initiative are highly valued.

What are the Key Challenges Professionals Might Face While Transitioning to the Startup Industry?

Transitioning to the startup world offers exciting prospects, but professionals might encounter the following challenges:

  • Navigating the unpredictable landscape and financial instability of startups
  • Adapting to diverse responsibilities that go beyond traditional job roles
  • The ability to work in a fast-paced environment where constant pivots and quick decision-making is the order of the day
  • Taking on higher responsibility and being accountable for outcomes
  • Rapidly acquiring new skills due to the multifaceted nature of startup roles

Are Technical Skills More Important Than Soft Skills While Working in a Startup in India?

While technical skills are undeniably important, a balance between technical expertise and strong, soft skills is increasingly becoming a crucial factor for success. While technical proficiency enables the development and execution of innovative solutions, soft skills like effective communication, collaboration, adaptability, and problem-solving play a pivotal role in fostering a dynamic and cohesive startup culture.

How Do Indian Startups Value Entrepreneurial Skills and Mindset?

Startups often seek individuals who exhibit traits like a proactive problem-solving attitude, the ability to embrace calculated risks, and a strong drive to create impactful solutions. For instance, many successful Indian startups, such as Flipkart and Ola, were founded by individuals with an entrepreneurial mindset, enabling them to disrupt established industries and create new markets. Moreover, startups value employees who demonstrate a user-centric approach, as evident in the case of food delivery platforms like Swiggy and Zomato, which prioritize addressing customer needs promptly.

To develop the essential skills to work in a startup environment, explore the online courses offered by Emeritus in collaboration with the world’s best universities.

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