What I Learned Working With Start-Ups For Five Years

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a household where entrepreneurship was at the centre of everything. As a 6 year old, I would do my own washing, make a snack and could probably have stayed home alone if allowed. Within a couple of years, I was making cheese with my mother to sell at the local Farmer’s Markets. It’s what I value most about my childhood and naturally, I’m drawn to business growth and entrepreneurship in general.


After finishing my degree in 2009 and taking a few months to figure out the next step, I headed to the Big Smoke (Dublin) to pursue internships in the world of marketing. This set a base for my career where I would go on to work with over 15 different start-up companies both as an employee and a freelancer.

Fast forward to 2015 and I had a head full of anecdotes, hard lessons and unfortunately in some cases, failures to learn from. All of this is what I’ll carry with me for years to come as I continue down my chosen career path.

It has of course been valuable but what exactly is at the forefront and what do I value the most? Well, how much time do you have?

The people.

I’ve worked with self-made business owners who come from a multitude of backgrounds. Some have studied as far as PHD level, some started their businesses at aged seventeen straight out of school and others stumbled upon their business idea while on their ‘typical’ 9 to 5 path. Whether it was a newly discovered dream or goal since childhood, all of them have had one thing in common – their determination.

If there’s a goal clearly in sight and it’s all you can think about then go for it. Do the early starts, the late nights and the missing out of birthday parties. Go for what it is you want and make sure you give it everything you have.

Expect challenges.

Not to be negative but failure is inevitable. The more you do in life, the more you open up yourself up to risk and things going wrong. There will be scenarios that go awol from time to time and usually at the moment you least expect it – these are the happenings you need to wake you up (again) to what you really want. The world of reaching for your goals is speckled with little obstacles – overcome them and it’ll be even more worth it. Entrepreneurs know this too well and push through to get to where they want.


Oh the learnings.

I remember sitting down for a meal with my ex-colleagues last year. It had been a long day of meetings, intense discussions and chasing sales. The president of the company at the time had a treasure-chest of work experience he could probably write a book on so, for the rest of the evening we sat and enjoyed his stories, each taking what we could. The tales of triumph, random experiences and human emotion were shared into the early hours and, still resonate with me and come up from time to time when the moment suits.

Working with those who have been there and done that is not nearly as intriguing as working with those who are being there and doing it all AGAIN. The majority of entrepreneurs out there have had multiple adventures to tell. Take my ex-boss who had run his business from four different countries before I had met him or the other who had worked in the corporate world for 25 years and decided to take a leap into the unknown world of starting a business.

Opening myself up to the world of entrepreneurship is one of the best steps I’ve taken. Nowadays as I’ve ventured back into the big wonderful world of retail, I refer back to the lessons I’ve learned more than ever- there’s so much food for thought.