Are you thinking about how cool it would be to work at a startup? How startups are exciting and flexible and cutting edge? Before you quit your day job, see if you have the right personality to work at a startup.
You have to like change
The first reality check about working at a startup is that change is a constant. If you don’t like change, don’t work at a startup. And I don’t mean just one thing changing, I mean everything is in flux.
What worked today will be done differently tomorrow. And the next day and so on.
The road forward is unclear
If you need to know where you’re going or where your company is going, startups are not a good fit for you. Sure, the genius who started the firm has a plan and a goal, but those are probably five years off. If you want to know what you’ll be doing three months from now, you’re in trouble. If you want a clear career path, a startup is the wrong place for you.
Processes and procedures often missing
Startups are focused on getting a business up and running and getting its product or service to market. It’s all about making money, then more money. And finding investors.
It’s highly unlikely a startup will have documented processes and procedures. If you like to have a model or process to follow in your job, you’ll feel lost in a startup.
Salary and benefits are mediocre
Again, startups are about building a successful company. That requires cash. You’ll find that your salary and benefits at a startup probably don’t equal what you’ll get at an established company. You’ll be promised raises and promotions, but those are usually a long time coming. If you want a predictable comfort level with money, promotions, and benefits, stay with an established company.
24/7 means exactly that
Everyone is expected to work hard to make the company successful. That often means long hours, including nights and weekends. You may be asked to work holidays if the company is facing a tight deadline.
The technology may be old
You’ll probably be using your own technology, because startups tend to get used computers and phones. Money goes for development and marketing, not technology. If you’re comfortable using technology that’s a few generations old, you’ll be OK.
Equity is worth the paper it’s printed on
Some startups like to lure employees by promising stock or equity. If the startup isn’t making money, the stock and equity are only a promise. You can’t bank on resources you don’t actually own.
HOWEVER . . .
If you like the following, a startup may be the place for you.
- Lots of change and flexibility
- Learning on your own
- Figuring things out on the fly
- A more relaxed environment (until it’s crunch time)
- Understanding every facet of a company
- Being able to talk to the CEO and execs
- Not being pigeon-holed into one role
CAVEAT: I’m using the stereotype of a startup to write this blog post. Not every startup is the same, nor is every established company. Just do your homework.
Agree or disagree?
Help your fellow professionals on this topic. Let us know in the comments if you think we’re full of it. Share your experiences working at a startup–good or bad. Bring it on.
© Pamela A. Scott, MentorLoft.com, 2016