The first thing to know is that there are startup unicorns and there are human unicorns. In this post, we'll be focusing on the latter.
A startup earns the term "unicorn" when it gets a valuation of 1 billion dollars. A human earns the term when they kick-a at so many things, it's impossible to put them in a box.
Put simply, both are called unicorns because they're extremely rare – and thus, extremely valuable.
Unicorns are real
If you've ever met a person and said, "Is there anything they can't do?" – you may have found yourself a unicorn. Their insatiable curiosity and profound sense of confidence compel them to learn by doing. This is why they tend to generally master so many things.
You can't put a unicorn in a box
Not only is it incredibly difficult to give this person a job title, it's even more difficult to keep them operating within that job boundary. If misunderstood or devalued, this will inevitably create tension on teams. If leveraged, this can be game changing.
Unicorns are the startup's secret weapon
In early stages, startups don't have the resources to hire a huge team of people to evenly and clearly divide up the work. Instead, they look for unicorns – the ones who can blur past boundaries to get to good work – and testable work – fast.
This may look like someone who can do UX, UI, and code. Or perhaps an individual who can be client-facing, lead the digital strategy, and – not only direct a team of creatives – but roll up their own sleeves and help do the work.
What some companies hire 3 or 5 people to do, a unicorn has the experience and speed to do themselves. The results will often be shorter timelines, lower costs, and a heightened sense of ownership.
Unicorns can be hard to keep
Even still, it's not impossible. Here are a few tips on how to keep a unicorn challenged and happy:
Unicorns are magical
And we've been "collecting" them for years. We're a consulting firm and digital agency that is 100% contractor-based, which allows us to build custom teams for our clients. We like to say, "We deploy people. We don't employ them." Our favorite thing in the world is understanding what a client needs and creating a custom team to help solve that challenge.
Unicorns love working with us because of the pipeline of great work and clients we provide them. And clients love us because our unicorns end up feeling like their "Spirit Animal" (which is how we got our name, by the way.)
In fact, every time we've been able to get a client on camera for a case study video, they've used the word magical.
Are you a unicorn? Tell us more.
Would you like to experience one? Reach out.