Life at a start-up: 10 things we’ve learned

 About ourselves, about business, about each other

Added on

By Caroline O'Donoghue on

Brought to you in partnership with

Whether we've come from media houses, broadcasters, magazines, marketing agencies or Saturday jobs, the team at The Pool tends to have one thing in common: most of us had never worked for a start-up. Well, that, and we all put a bra on one strap at a time in the morning.

So, what have we learned? What surprised us, and what are we still grappling with? Here are 10 things we've learned: 

10. Do not call the IT department, because it doesn't exist

Wi-fi keeps cutting out? Mac perpetually stuck on the Wheel of Death? Has the CMS erased the article you were just building? Unfortunately, no one has been employed to care. You're just going to have to sort this one out yourself. 

9. Stock up on Berocca and hand sanitiser

If you're a super-glamorous start-up like The Pool, you'll all be in one room: sharing the same mugs, desks, and carbon dioxide.

If Marisa gets chicken pox, you will get chicken pox. If Frankie has trench foot, you will get trench foot. As I write this, I am at an empty bank of desks while four colleagues recover from a vomiting bug and I douse my keyboard in Carex. 

8. Smaller teams make you care more

It's 7pm, you're putting your coat on – and you notice someone is trying and failing to keep a mental breakdown from leaking a pulpy mush on to their desks. "What's wrong?" you ask tentatively, knowing that you're about to take your coat off again. 

"Everything is RUINED."
"No it isn't, shhh, shh."
"It IS."
"Shhh, we'll fix it." 

And you do fix it. Together. 

7. Your job title is more of a loose suggestion

Everyone does everything. Everyone writes, everyone builds articles, everyone buys stationery when it's their turn, everyone learns how to do everyone else's job. And, after three months, everyone is far more qualified than they were when this thing started. 

6. You will put on 10lb

Sorry. You will. 


What else could explain the fact that he will NEVER print anything like he's supposed to? 

4. Your ideas matter more than ever

There's no time to doubt your own ideas when there's a hole in the schedule, or a client needs an amazing piece of content. Don't bother with any of this sheepish, "Uhm... I was thinking.. it's probably... I don't know..." Come on, let's get on with it. 

3. Nothing prepares you for having to pay people

In the words of co-founder/CEO Sam Baker: "You know that moment in Harry Potter & The Prisoner Of Azkaban, when Sirius is being attacked by dementors and Harry is waiting for his dad to come, so he can summon the patronus to save Sirius? And THEN he realises that the only person who can summon the patronus is him? That's what starting your own business is like. If you don't summon the patronus, nobody will. And by "summon the patronus" we mean "pay everyone their salary." 

2. Pret becomes its own food group

Three times a day, every day. 

1. You develop a weird insular sister love

You might not necessarily be best friends with everyone you work with, but when you work at a start-up where you're all working toward the same goal, something happens. You root for each other, you develop weird private jokes about the printer and you have very few qualms about shouting, "Does anyone have a tampon?" across the office. As fashion & beauty editor Frankie Graddon puts it: "Working for, and with, women is the BEST."

We’ve been capturing moments and reading The Pool on the go with our Microsoft Lumia 640.

Tagged in:
women at work
Sam Baker

Tap below to add to your homescreen

Love The Pool? Support us and sign up to get your favourite stories straight to your inbox