Catherine Kennard
  • By Catherine Kennard, founder of Lovework
  • 29 Jan 2013

Catherine Kennard founded Love Work, a startup that connects exceptional candidates to jobs within fledgling start-ups. For her, being part of a new business was the perfect solution to the apathy she’d felt from her unchallenging blue-chip role. “From day one, I had so much responsibility and autonomy. I was effecting change, I was doing something with a tangible outcome, I was part of a journey.”

But joining a start-up isn’t for everyone. Answer these 10 questions to work out if you’re start-up material.

1) Are you passionate?
If you are passionate about your business idea, passionate about working for yourself, passionate about creating a brand, culture and vision, then that’s a good place to start.  At times the business might take over your life, so you certainly can’t be half hearted about it.

2) Can you cope with uncertainty?
No two days are ever the same. Your success will come in finding this prospect exciting, and not daunting.

3) Are you flexible?
Priorities in start-ups are often changing. The ability to adapt to the never-ending changes required by a growing business will be essential to your success. So do you need to know exactly what’s going to happen every day – or can you roll with the punches?

4) Are you proactive and self-motivated?
If you can only work with clear instructions from a manager, then this is not the path for you. In a time-poor environment, where everyone is focused on building the business, there are no micro-managers. It is crucial that you can drive your own productive and useful workload.

5) Are you prepared to muck in?
In start-ups you are often expected to roll up your sleeves and assist with the grunt work. In an environment where there are no cleaners, no oiled machine, you might find that you (and the CEO!) are lifting boxes, washing up and changing light bulbs. We even had “bin-duty” in my previous company... not a task I relished, but it had to be done.

6) Are you a do-er?
Start-up environments are not for those who wish to sit at a desk strategizing and contemplating. You need to be a do-er. You need to want to execute your plans, and get your hands dirty.

7) Are you tenacious?
The start-up journey is full of challenges and set backs  - the ability to be resilient will keep you in the game.

8) Are you self aware?
As part of a start-up’s journey, you are constantly learning. Successful employees need to be smart enough to know what they don’t know. Are you that person?

9) Are you a creative thinker?
Do you have the ability to turn ambiguity into creativity? This, and innovative solutions to the many problems you’ll encounter along the way is an essential quality for anyone looking to join a start-up.

10) Can you fail well?
Failure is likely! In an environment where you are innovating and trying new things, it’s going to happen. So, if a project you are working on fails, will you view it as a major career set-back or as a learning experience?

Catherine Kennard is the founder of, a start up that connects exceptional people to exceptional jobs.

  • Love Work

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