The blockchain industry is growing rampantly with startups popping up every day that cover everything from copyright for artists to food transportation to banking and everything in between. AngelList alone has nearly 1100 listed blockchain startups with an average valuation of $4.5 million.
Many of these startups are working with freelance talent around the globe, and freelancers are still trying to keep up with the pace of growth; many experts are booked months in advance. As more workers begin to filter into this niche or expand their present roles–developers, marketers, etc.–to include blockchain projects, there’s a lot of excitement and fresh faces coming into the community.
But how do you keep up with a niche that pervades so many other industries and moves so quickly?
These are the best tips for working with blockchain startups I’ve learned, and ones I’ve heard echoed by others in the industry:
Be mentally prepared for the fast pace
Blockchain is perhaps one of the fastest growing areas of business that one can readily break into in the current environment. It seems like everyday there is a new tokensale breaking $20 million or another investor who’s made their first million in a matter of months.
Behind all of these announcements are frenzied teams creating business propositions, pouring out newsletters and whitepapers, and typing into the wee hours of the night developing smart contracts.
In blockchain, more than any other niche I’ve ever worked in, the pace is breakneck. This can be incredibly exciting for those who are up to the challenge. All the same, it is a lot of work, and information grows and changes in a way that absolutely requires team members to stay on point, both with their own tasks and the project development as a whole. Idea generation especially is one area that is always in warp drive mode in blockchain.
Be prepared to consume and create new ideas every single day and learn to enjoy the process, and you’ll be set.
Blockchain is also a niche that is always changing. A network fork, new legislation, or a hack are all events that could happen at any time. Oftentimes, events like these require teams to pull together, sometimes outside of normal working hours, to get things under control.
Just the same, a sharp turn in the direction of a project is not an uncommon event. Learn to quickly re-assess and keep rolling to keep a project on pace for completion.
A change in blockchain can happen fast, so always stay in contact with your team, and, if possible, have a game plan for some of the most likely events such as legislation changes.
Keep a growth mindset
With so much change at such a fast pace, there is a lot of room to get in a glass-half-empty mindset without the right perspective. Understanding that the challenges blockchain doles out can help you grow not only in a career sense but a personal sense as well is vital.
If something doesn’t work during a project, no need to break your keyboard, simply ask, “How can we grow from this? What can we do differently?” to keep your sanity.
Get comfortable with uncertainty
As is true in any industry, some startups fail. Not every project is a guaranteed success and not every project will be the object of adoration of the community. Even if you do everything “right,” sometimes factors out of your control come up.
While you should go into every project with the intention to do your best work, you must not take a failure personally. One benefit to the insane speed of blockchain projects is that a failure opens up an immediate opportunity to try again, whether with your current team or a new one. Many of the people working in blockchain always have their eyes open for a new opportunity, since that’s how many of us have gotten into this niche in the first place. Keep your spirits high and try, try again.
Welcome conflicts and criticism
When an entire team is offering their two cents on a project, people are bound to butt heads from time to time. In a startup, and especially in blockchain where people are often stepping in to help with multiple roles, conflict and criticism are beneficial as long as you do it right. In fact, both usually lead to a stronger project in the end.
The key to conflicts and criticisms are to engage in them constructively and respectfully. But stand your ground. Especially if you’ve been hired as an expert in your area, remember that you may have knowledge that those who are offering feedback do not have and have never had any reason to have. Those people, however, are experts in their own right with a different perspective to offer, so listen. That’s the beautiful thing about blockchain startup teams–everyone grows and learns something new while creating a successful projects.
A total lack of conflict and criticism could be a warning sign that you and your team aren’t thinking things through thoroughly enough or that communication needs a boost.
Since working with a blockchain startup frequently means working remotely, self discipline is vital. When speed is so prevalent, falling behind is never fun, because that mountain of work will soon turn from a pleasant hike to Mt. Everest.
Commit time frequently to your project and keep your task lists organized so you always know what is ahead of you. If you’re able to put an estimated time on a task, that can help you know how much you’ve committed yourself to also. If you’re using these times to create a work schedule, always leave yourself a bit of wiggle room too, because with so many ideas flying around, you may find you occasionally need a brain break.
Cover scope in your contract
It’s easy to want to fill every role you’ve got skills for, but especially if you’re juggling multiple contracts, make sure everyone involved knows what you’ll commit to. If you’re a jack-of-all-trades, you can offer a weekly time commitment, or, if you prefer to stick with your main area of expertise, negotiate whether you will or will not expand that area of work.
Especially with blockchain startups that are doing a tokensale, it often requires every team member to help man the ship. Knowing from the beginning who is available for what and for how long can save a world of trouble when it comes time to launch.
Respect your limits
As I mentioned earlier, a lot of people working with blockchain startups are booked months into the future and juggling multiple projects simultaneously. When everything is running at hyperspeed and ideas are flowing from every direction, remember that it’s okay to step back a bit. Even if there are ten projects waiting, you can’t complete any of them if you’re completely burnt out. We in the blockchain community are people too, and we all must take time to cultivate our skills and enrich our lives to we can bring our best work and ideas to the table.
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