Achtung! The Startup fever is high and they are on the lookout for talented people to join their team. Let’s broadly classify the start-up folks into two categories. On one hand you have people founding start-ups and on the other, you have people wanting to work in said start-ups. This post is addressed to the second category: the one’s wanting to work in a start-up.
Working in a startup might sound tun and just what you think you’re looking for, but remember that the startup life is not for everybody. Consider some of these points to assess for yourself if working in one is your cup of tea.
Change is the only constant. This age old saying rings true in the case of startups. Whatever else you might have expected, expect this. Since a startup is constantly evolving and figuring out what works best for itself, everybody associated with the startup also needs to evolve. From simpler aspects like office space, to more prominent ones like project direction and scope are all part of the evolution process. Working in such a climate requires you to be able to go with the flow.
That’s not part of my job description. This phase does not exist in a startup. Were you hired to drive marketing efforts, but find yourself often doing so many other things? This fluidity in your work profile is a classic example of how a startup works. If you can cope with multitasking, this is actually quite a boon. You get to learn so much. You get a front row perspective on how a startup works. No job is too small in a startup, be that getting coffee, taking out the trash or locking up.
Expecting a big fat pay check: This one is rather important. Startup life has been significantly glorified. When you interview for a startup, chances are that what you currently make is way beyond their budget or just about within. Let’s not pin our hopes on a huge pay increase from what you’re currently making. Most startups can at best match that number, if even that. What they can offer you though is perhaps equity or stock options. At the very beginning, this means nothing and it may always mean nothing, but if you’ve joined a startup that goes on to become a Facebook, then it means a whole lot. This is a risk you’re taking; assessing this risk is your responsibility. It’s up to you to keep up with news and happenings around the world in the business you are in. That said, if the startup clicks, the payoff can be quite huge!
Work-Life Balance? What’s that? While a start-up offers you flexible timings, you will be spending a lot more time at work. Long days, late nights, all-nighters are all very common. In fact, this is what qualifies as a significant part of team bonding. Long hours usually mean free food and beverages. Know this before you start working for one, if you prefer a nine to five job with evenings free to do your own thing, you’re not in the right place. Having said that, founders recognise the threat of a burn out and various measures are taken to avoid such a situation.
Growth. As a startup grows, the policies will evolve. For example, if you were given free food as a perk, this may no longer be practical with a bigger team. Usually when smaller perks are taken, they give way to long term and more promising perks, like Provident Fund, Insurance, or Bonus. When the company starts to do well, or has raised a round of funding, the founders see this as a good time to bring in someone senior and more experienced for specific roles. As a core team member, you should welcome such talent and not view it as a threat. They are there to teach you and take the start-up forward.
While this list is not exhaustive, it would give you a clear idea on what to expect. Keeping these arguments in mind, make an informed decision on whether the startup life is meant for you or not. If you decide that this is the life for you, prepare to enjoy the amazing experience, but also be prepared for a bit of a roller coaster ride. Good luck!