Should I Get A Job At A Startup?
In recent times, startups have expanded the pool of opportunities for job seekers that not only seek financial satisfaction, but also an environment where they can thrive and ideate without hindrance.
This is in addition to the immense diversity in work experiences, nationality, and otherwise. However, being small enterprises that are created to solve certain problems within society, as well as introduce a product that will lure investors and innovatively disrupt established models and modus operandi of business, also means that such businesses possess some disadvantages.
For instance, the lifestyle inherent in a startup environment tilts an individual's work-life balance severely, demanding more hours and commitment toward the success of the startup and its product. It may also offer lower compensations in comparison to the "9-5" jobs and also has a high job insecurity risk. However, these drawbacks are not peculiar to startups and therefore, should not be taken as metrics for determining whether you should get a job at a startup or not.
One question then needs detailed answers: What are the necessary factors to consider when getting a job at a startup? Here they are:
Can I thrive in a workplace that embraces fluidity in roles and functions?
The allure of working in an environment that embraces fluidity and overlaps in its structure may prove to be exciting, especially for those that are used to a more rigid and highly organized background. However, this freedom comes at a cost.
In the case of startups, this fluidity of roles and functions can sometimes cause chaos within the firm, therefore, if you're coming into the startup as a leader, it is important to have a well-detailed plan that will implement a structure to ensure scalability of the startup.
In cases where you are going into such a startup with a more junior role, it is important to work seamlessly with your team leads, understanding that your leaders have laid out the necessary long and short-term goals that will not only help the startup to achieve its purpose but also allows you to simultaneously explore what works and what doesn't within the framework of such organization. That way, your career progression will not be stalled.
Above all, when working with a startup, there is the constant need to innovate, provide solutions on the spot and be proactive.
Who are the people involved and what is the culture of the startup?
First of all, it is important to note that the company culture of any organization is determined by the people working in the organization. The company culture is not superimposed but is one that is formed over time through continuous interactions and collaborations amongst the members of the startup, no matter the length of time each person has spent within the startup.
It's one thing to work closely with a particular department of a large corporation, and it's another to work closely with a small team that makes up the entire company. Startups are usually a small group. Therefore, you will spend a lot of time with people with different personalities, perspectives, and ways of life.
You need to ask yourself: “am I patient enough to deal with the differences in personalities? Will I be able to check my ego at the door?”
The founders of every startup are the most influential figures when it comes to defining the company culture of any startup. However, proactively forming new relationships is very vital within such a startup, as it will help you gain more knowledge of those you work with, and quickly too.
How much do I know about the founders or CEO?
It goes without saying that before you consider getting a job in a startup, you must conduct due diligence on the founders and CEO of the startup. This will give you a piece of well-grounded background information about the people you intend to work with.
For instance, if the founder is a greenhorn in the venture capital ecosystem and the company is still taking baby steps in terms of its growth and scalability, you will be able to understand that such founders may still be on the learning curve. In such cases, you need to fall back on their background and see how much impact they created in their former roles, as well as the recommendations and feedback from previous employers and colleagues.
The CEO of a startup must have imbibed the skill of developing teams from scratch, and effectively managing such teams. A lack of this experience will also imply that such CEOs must be proactive enough to hire people that can do such, and co-found the company with them.
With regards to you —who is considering getting a job at such a startup— you may need to fall back, once again, on the level of success of such CEOs in previous roles and functions. When such answers cannot be directly gotten, you should take a deep dive into the CEO and the company. This is because you need to convince yourself that such a CEO will effectively represent the goals, dreams, and mission of the company to potential investors and clients. Essentially, you need to be convinced that your CEO can double as a skilled salesman, in a loose sense.
Does such a startup possess the right investors?
The startup should also contain within its framework and structure, the right investors that will ensure the scalability of the brand —or at least, are targeting the right investors for the startup. It is very important to know who the investors or target investors are, as well as their track records with other organizations. This goes a long way in determining the longevity of such a startup.
This is because it is not enough to just create a great product, investors may need to sign off. If the product is not aligned with the expectations of the investors, the startup may run into trouble later in the future. Also, when applying for a role with a startup, if the founders and employees are evasive about the investors, you should be cautious.
Keep your goals and aspirations in check
It has been discovered that one major reason most people are eager to join startups, is the allure of making more money than they could ever imagine. Reality check— the prospects are less encouraging.
When joining a startup, disillusion your mind from making millions, or hitting a big, fat check. Remove the thoughts of even making bonuses that can be added to your salaries. The likelihood of startups securing large funds to expand the paychecks of their employees is rare.
However, this doesn't mean that you should not negotiate for all the equity you can possibly acquire during your time there. In fact, when applying for a job in a startup, do not accept any offer where there's no arrangement for equity. Also, do not join startups on mere promises of equity. Startups are quite volatile. They may be booming today and crash tomorrow. Priorities may also vary from time to time. Therefore, negotiating later for equity may be throwing yourself under the bus.
There are so many variables that should be considered when getting a job in a startup, and these variables ultimately help you to decide whether or not you should find a job at a startup. Therefore, this question requires a judgment call, based on your preferences and personality.