One of the key things people love about working in small startups is the flat organizational structure. Instead of presenting your ideas to a manager, you can focus on bringing them to life. When you’re the entire marketing department or the only mobile developer, you just don’t have to hold dozens of meetings. Most of the time, you know what’s going on in the company just by coming to the workplace. For many people, this autonomy turns into increased levels of responsibility to expand career opportunities.

Together with IT businessman and international investor Rustam Gilfanov, we analyze how to make a career in a startup without a formal “ladder” to climb.

Strategy # 1. Join a growing company

This is the most obvious approach: if you join a company that is growing and changing rapidly, there are likely to be more opportunities for new roles and new responsibilities. Ask questions that will give you an idea of the company’s development perspective: what is the financing situation? What are the company’s sales and revenue goals? What is the recruitment plan for the next 12 months? How does management see changing of your role over time? If you’re a beginner, this can be especially important as you can start as a junior internal engineer with the goal of becoming an HR manager or DevOps engineer.

Strategy # 2. Be honest about your goals

The worst thing you can do in any job is to keep quiet about your career goals. Do you want to ultimately manage the team? Tell your plans to the founders of the company and ask what you can do to achieve this. Then try to check your progress regularly.

Also, be clear about what type of promotion is important to you. Perhaps you need more responsibility and new projects, or you may just get the best position you want to earn over a period of time.

Strategy # 3. Be a leader

Even if you don’t manage a team, there are many opportunities to lead a growing company. Take the initiative to help your company to hit stride. Instead of waiting for guidance from your manager, make a plan for how you feel is the best way to spend your own time. Proof that you can make others more productive and strategic planning will prove when you are fit for the job when your company really needs an organizational structure.

Hiring and retaining the best employees is the goal of any startup management team. So many companies are competing for talent around the world, so your company most likely will do everything to make you happy.

About the Author

Rustam Gilfanov is a co-founder of an IT company, an IT businessman, an international investor.

In 2006, Gilfanov Rustam and his partner open an international outsourcing IT company in Kyiv. Today this company is one of the biggest software developers for the gaming industry, marketing, and finance.