The article I'm quoting here talks about the challenges of working for a startup, but the demands are just as real for those of us working with them, either as mentors, suppliers, or simply advocates...

Over the last 6 months I have seen some excellent and potentially market changing ideas, pitched by dozens of very different people all trying to fix problems they've identified with insurance. I have tried to support several of these businesses both as a mentor, and on a few occassions as a provider of recruitment services. 

Let me put it on record that I am hugely enthusiastic about these emerging businesses. The insurance sector is in desperate need of a shake-up, and if it can't do it to itself, let someone entrepreneurial do it on its behalf!

But... it is not always easy.

After 15+ years of working with or for large corporate firms, you become used to processes. As a recruiter this is generally: 1. Need identified; 2. Head-count signed off; 3. Recruitment partner engaged; 4. Candidate identified; 5. Offer. Straightforward and to the point.

Don't expect this of a startup!

For instance, your contact have fulfil a number of very different roles: The CEO may also be the CFO, COO, Chief Marketeer, Salesman, HR Director, etc. 

Surely this makes things easier? You don't have to sift through the corporate matrix to find the decision maker, right...?

No. 

That person has so many things on their plate that responses can take forever to come through, or the email that you sent gets completely overlooked... Can you ever get them on the phone? Get used to telephone tag! You may show up for a meeting that they've requested, only for them to not show up, and then you can't even get through to them to find out where they are.

That notwithstanding, don't ignore the power of the investors... Your contact (the CEO/Founder) may have grand plans about what they want the business to look like, but if someone has sunk hundreds of thousands of pounds into them, they will invariably want to know how that's being spent. All of a sudden that reassurance you had that they are going to do something.... is meaningless.

I am not suggesting that you don't work with these businesses. The people are great, hugely enthusiastic, and really engaging. Just be ready for lot's of unseen obtacles!