Here are seven tips I've learned over the years to help you not only survive, but thrive at a startup:
1. Embrace the mission.
The most successful entrepreneurs are incredibly passionate about their work. It's the fire in their bellies that drives them to succeed. Similarly, if you're going to commit to working at a startup, you have to believe in its mission. Look for organizations that are doing something you're interested in. You won't make it at a business if you're not genuinely excited about the work.
2. Acknowledge the long hours -- and accept them.
If you're going to make it in the startup world, you first need to acknowledge that the hours will be long. The second step is to accept this fact. In the beginning, it wasn't unusual for my team to work more than twelve hours a day or come in over the weekend to meet our goals. In a startup, there's always more work to be done and not enough people to take it on. You're not hanging around the office for the sake of face time -- there's work to be done. Accept this fact and you're already in better shape.
3. Set expectations with loved ones.
Not everyone in your circle of friends will understand or appreciate the commitment a startup demands. It's very important to set expectations with your loved ones. Nothing is worse than having your family call at 5:30 p.m. to ask how your day went when your work day is far from over. To avoid these frustrations, set expectations up front such as when people can reach you and through what forms of communication.
4. Take initiative.
On my first day, I was handed my computer in its box and a small packet containing basic instructions for using the company's systems and handling customer service inquiries.