When you read yet another news story about the latest startup to sell for billions, it’s hard not to wonder what it would be like to be part of the startup community. The appeal of working at a startup draws in even the most experienced, successful professionals. Some of them even leave prestigious, high-paying jobs at big-time companies to rededicate their passion to risky new business ventures. Is it worth it?
It’s almost impossible to know for sure. Everyone who has worked at a startup will have a different story, from career-launching successes to disastrous blunders. Before you dive into the deep of the startup world, consider the pros and the cons.
At a startup company, there’s an energy that seems to permeate every inch of the place and every employee working there. As a company enjoys its early growth, changes area constant and new faces appear all the time. Anticipation is everything; you could be working at the next Facebook or Uber and not even know it. This feeling inspires you to work hard and makes you feel like part of something important.
Working at a startup allows you to explore different areas of your career that you may not have considered otherwise. Startups try to get everything they can out of their employees, so you may be asked to push the boundaries of your skillset and take on projects you’re less than comfortable with.
The connections you make at a startup can last a lifetime. Not only will you get to meet new colleagues and professional connections for the future, but you’ll be working side-by-side with the founders of the company. The knowledge you gain from working in close quarters with seasoned professionals can enhance your skillset and create opportunities for you in the future.
Anyone who works at a startup hopes their company will be the next success story. The best part? It could actually happen. Joining a startup is a risk, but the rewards can be life-changing. When you get in on the ground floor, you have no idea how far the company could go. If you make the right (and lucky) choice, you could stumble upon your dream job.
Long Hours & Low Pay
The startup environment is always buzzing with excitement, early in the morning and late into the night. Most startups don’t have the funds to accomplish everything they want at once, so you may need to accept a lower salary than you expected. You’ll likely be asked to work long hours without extra pay. Bonuses are usually non-existent, at least a first, so a kind thank you will have to do.
If you work at a startup, you’ll have quite the “expansive” job description. It doesn’t matter if you have a Masters in marketing; you’ll most likely be working on projects that have nothing to do with Google Adwords or Twitter advertising campaigns. Everyone is “all-in” at a startup, giving a hand wherever and whenever it is needed. Get ready to file paperwork, clean the windows, and maybe even help build products. If you work at a startup, be ready for anything.
Startups generally won’t offer the extensive training programs that established companies can provide. When you get hired, you will be facing a “trial by fire” situation in which you need to hit the ground running. If you’re lucky, the people around you will be helpful, supportive, and understanding of mistakes. At a startup, your positive attitude and hard work will go a very long way.
Risk of Failure
Most startups fail. That’s an unfortunate truth all startups and startup employees have to face. On Thursday you might have the most rewarding, successful day of your employment at a company; on Friday, there might not be a company. Most of the time, startup employees won’t know how or when this kind of disaster will strike, so it comes as a brutal surprise. Be prepared.
Working at a startup is a risk/reward situation, pushing you to take a risk for the potentially massive reward. Think about your career, where you are in your professional life, and choose wisely. You never know when that entry-level startup job could become a life-long source of happiness.
Do you have experience working at a startup? Whether it’s good or bad, tell us about it on Twitter by sending your comments to @Starternoise.