I am very passionate about startups because I believe they bring a lot of new innovation and life into our economy. This is a passion that many of my coaching clients share with me. About 60% or more of them want to join a startup in Switzerland.
Let’s talk about the definition of a startup. Wikipedia does a great job with an explanation. I would define a startup as an organization that is constantly innovative and in an almost constant growth phase.
One great example for a company that I would call a 15-year old startup is the Swiss company Magnolia. They have been constantly growing at 20-50% every single year during the past and there seems no end to that. You can read more about Magnolia’s expansion worldwide here. Chances are that there are plenty more startups in the Swiss market just like this one.
There are even some multimillion or multibillion dollar companies that I would still consider startups like Google, Ebay, LinkedIn and Groupon.
I believe where growth is, is where the good things happen. If you look at the economy in Switzerland and see where job growth actually comes from, it’s not from the large companies.
Many of the large corporations have a lot of jobs published but that does not have to be a sign for growth. In fact, many of big companies are growing in one area but at the same time laying people off in another. Furthermore, a lot of the jobs that are filled, are replacements for people who left.
The real growth in the Swiss economy comes from the small companies and startups. Why? Because they have no choice but to grow. If they don’t expand, they will have to close doors soon.
If you ever had the least bit of marketing at school, you know that growth is a very good and essential thing for a market to be in. The same thing applies when you build your career. You want to be in a market and company that grows, otherwise you won’t be able to build your career far.
Just look at the Pharmaceutical business. A few years ago, it was one of the most profitable and fastest growing sectors. Now companies are shifting to generic medical products and diagnostics rapidly. Roche, for example, built a huge diagnostics division in Rotkreuz during the past few years with thousands of people working there.
Of course, when you consider joining a startup, you want to make sure your research is solid about the market, business model and growth potential. There is always a risk involved when joining a young company.
However, remember that any company in the world, not matter how big can go bankrupt in days. Remember Swissair and some of the most well-known banks in the world?
2. People are Accessible
During your job search in Switzerland, you want to make sure you talk to organizations that are accessible, meaning, you can actually talk to a human being and not just to a recruitment system. This is highly important because the number one reason people fail to get a job in Switzerland is because they think the recruitment system will be able to do the work for them.
You can’t let a recruitment system or HR person pick you, you need to pick yourself or you will miserably fail during your journey.
One beauty of startups is that you can actually talk to people. Many don’t even have an HR team or fancy CV screening software so they have to use a different approach. Did you guess what that approach is? They are hiring people they like and trust, meaning, they count on referrals from their employees and their network.
At a startup company, you can literally call the CEO or the founder and tell them why you are the best person for them to hire and how you can help them make their business successful. Of course, if you have the guts, you can do that with any company, no matter the size but with startups, the people are usually easier to reach and more likely to talk to you.
3. You Can Have a Real Impact
Now, I have no desire to help more people become cogs in a machine in Switzerland. I want to help you find work that excites you every single day. Work, that puts a big bold smile on your face as soon as you wake up in the morning (That’s actually how I get to wake up every morning thanks to you).
You can of course have this at any company, no matter what size. However, the tendency is, that the large corporations will put you into a box where you are stuck for 8-12 hours a day doing grunt work like filling in stupid reports that nobody is reading or sending around emails with 17 people in the CC about some nonsense issues that somebody else has created.
If this is what you are looking for, I can’t help you. Otherwise, bear with me.
I believe that startup companies in Switzerland offer the most exciting opportunities available. As mentioned before, a startup can be 3 months old or 15 years, the main characteristics how I define a startup is constant growth and innovation.
Steve Jobs once said about Apple that they are probably the largest startup in the world.
At a startup, you have the chance to get involved in exciting projects, innovation that can change to course of history (Think about the Macintosh or Google search). This is how you become remarkable and this is how you grow your career massively.
4. You Get Hired Because of Your Personality
I think this is a major point to make here. Many large organizations don’t feel the need to hire for attitude but hire for skills almost only. That looks very different at fast growing companies like startups.
Put yourself into the shoes of a CEO of a startup company that is growing fast and needs a new head of business development to expand to the Middle East. You know that this position is a key role and there is no room for failure just because you pick the wrong personality. Who will you hire?
Will you put together a job ad and put it on jobs.ch? Chances are that you will think very hard about your network first and ask some people you know if they are interested in joining your company or if they know anyone. In most cases, you will succeed and hire somebody through this channel.
Some benefits also include that you never had to spend money on job ads or plenty of time screening through CVs that all seem to look the same and have no personal touch to them.
Interestingly, people who are not in your 1st or 2nd degree contacts never knew about your job opening and therefore it’s another example of a job filled through the hidden job market.
The essence here is that the fast growing company can’t just hire anybody with the right skills on his CV but needs somebody who fits the company culture and aligns with its values and mission.
I got a call from the CTO of a fast growing startup in Switzerland a few weeks ago and he told me that it’s very hard to find the right people for the key roles. The most difficult thing for him is to find people who fit into the company culture and people he can trust and don’t have to micromanage.
5. You Get to Work With People With a Passion
If you have ever worked at a company where the founder is still in charge, you know how much passion is put into work every single day. The core focus is not on filling in reports that nobody cares about or work that can be outsourced but it’s building and growing the business and making it successful.
Imagine doing something where you can put your heart into because you feel so connected to the work you are doing. When you work with people who share a similar passion, the entire game changes. Weekends are no longer the 2-day escape trip and looking at your watch at work while thinking when this day is going to end becomes nonexistent.
Passion is contagious and if you have ever caught yourself in a situation where you talk to somebody who shares a similar passion, you know what I mean.
TOP 100 Startups in Switzerland
I’d like to end this article with a list of the TOP 100 startups in Switzerland, listed by startups.ch, so you can start working on it right away. Do some research about these companies and find new ones.
Digg deep, use your head and you will certainly find some gems of companies in there that may become the most exciting place in Switzerland you have ever worked at.