Here’s what you need to know to succeed at a fast-growing tech company or startup.

Want to accelerate your career? Joining a startup could be your fast track to success. But you need to be ready to navigate some of the biggest opportunities and common challenges.

You don’t want to just survive at a startup – you want to thrive. So we asked tech execs from around the U.S. to share their best piece of advice for succeeding in a fast-paced work environment. Whether you’re joining a startup from a big company or looking to level up at a fast-growing tech company, this career advice can help.

1. Adapt to change

“You need to be able to be fluid and adapt to change on the fly. You have to take initiative, be proactive in the ownership of tasks while still being the ultimate team player.”

– Teague Goddard, CDW


2. Be willing to fail

“To thrive in a fast-paced environment, I believe it is critical to be flexible and comfortable with constant change. Working in a start-up requires you to change processes, try new things, and fail fast. When you fail fast, you learn fast and when you learn fast, you grow.”

– Betsy Koliba, Demandwell

“Change is the only constant, so get comfortable with it! Flexibility and resiliency will get you much further in your career than rigidity. Be open to new ideas and new ways of doing things – even if it feels uncomfortable at first. It will make you a highly sought-after employee, and you’ll be less stressed at the end of the day.”

– Robin Lanning, Tactive

“Don’t take yourself too seriously (but take your work seriously!) When you are moving fast, mistakes will happen – learn from them and grow. And laugh along the way.”

– Jenni Burton, The Engineered Innovation Group


3. Manage your time and energy

“You need to manage your energy as much as you manage your time. We all have certain times of day when we are more creative, more insightful, and more decisive – align your tasks with the times of day that will allow you to move as quickly and effectively as possible.”

– Jay Clouse, Creator Science

“Be intentional about managing your energy. It’s easy for me to get caught up in the whirlwind of a fast-paced environment, which in my experience leads very quickly to burnout. Setting clear boundaries such as work hours, mindset breaks, and moments in the day for a mental reset is essential for me to stay grounded in what matters.”

– Meg Yothment, Powderkeg


4. Prioritize to build momentum

“My tip is to prioritize and move. Hesitation doesn’t fly well in a fast-paced environment, and overthinking prevents learning opportunities. Perfecting prioritization and focusing on the most impactful tasks makes this type of work environment fun!”

– Tim Conder, CXology

“Understand and ruthlessly prioritize the 1-3 things you need to accomplish each day. There will be tons of distractions, changes, and less-important busy work. Identify what’s truly meaningful every day, and make sure that gets addressed.”

– Sam Smith, Demandwell

5. Stay organized

“Being organized is key. When lots of things are going on, being organized helps know what should be prioritized first.”

– Greg Van Zuiden, Immuware

“First you have to look at the big picture and identify which tasks are highest priority, based on timeline and impact. Then, you want to establish efficient systems for managing your daily / weekly / monthly to-do list. I personally love OneNote and Microsoft tasks. If I don’t write things down, then they fly right out of my head.”

– Heidi Barker, Parker Technology

6. Communicate like a startup

“Communicate as directly and concisely as you can — both internally and externally.”

– Jenni Burton, The Engineered Innovation Group

“Always over-communicate and be purposeful in including others in learning opportunities!”

– Dan Traub, Method

7. Help your team stay in the loop

“Fast-paced environments can often be overwhelming, with so many things happening and so much to learn. My main tip for thriving in an environment like this is to be generous with information. Become a collector of it and sharer with others, and show that you want others to also keep up and succeed.”

– Carey Ransom, Operate

Ready to explore some of the fastest-growing tech startups? Look for companies in hot industries with room to grow. Take the time to research each company by reviewing their website, product reviews, and online profiles.

You can browse all of Powderkeg’s Best Tech Companies to Work for, follow them for insights, or request an introduction to plug into your next big opportunity.