What is your definition of a startup?
Is the small stereotypical tech company probably creating the next mobile app?
Or a medium size and financially sound company that can be in nearly any business vertical?
Great, either way, you are right! However, working for them is entirely another thing. To some, startups sound appealing because one might think that it will provide a good chance for networking, experience within their desired field and if you are lucky, equity too! In most cases, all the above apply with the exception of equity unless you are lucky or just very sought after for your talent.
However, there is always a “but”. Startups are amazing and they do provide a great deal of experience, “but” do your research first. I know this because I work for one and wouldn’t trade it. I thrive on the fast pace work and the variety of different and challenging obstacles being thrown at you on a weekly if not daily basis.
So where does this land the average person?
Most people are probably seeking a secure job that requires them to do the same thing every single day and ensures them a steady paycheck. I’ll be honest, we all (myself included) want that (a steady paycheck), however, some are more willing to put some of that security on the line. Some call that risky, we call it a “thrill, opportunity or an investment”. We are not careless from a financial standpoint, but our ROI or extra compensation from working with or for a startup might not solely be based on financials, but sometimes intellectual and knowledge-based. In saying this, there is nothing wrong with wanting a steady paycheck and wanting a normal job that requires the same thing, there is and I stress absolutely nothing wrong with that.
However, for the other group of us, we seek something that will challenge us on a daily to weekly basis. We enjoy and thrive on thinking about the limits and how far we can push them. Thinking about the next level and the level after that, something that has never been accomplished or niches within markets. We enjoy being challenged on an emotional and intellectual level. Innovation is our friend, but also our nemesis at the same time.
So why are startups not for everyone? To list out and repeat a few of the reasons; the money can be tight sometimes, you don’t always get equity, your primary role can change, a variety of different tasks can be directed to you all at once even when it’s not your job or responsibility, it challenges you on multiple levels, the long but yet expected work hours that occur in and outside of the office and more.
To some, that sounds like their worst nightmare, but to others, it sounds like a dream job. Now obviously we all want to work for a startup that is well financed, provides great salaries and gives equity to early starters, but that is not always the case. So what makes working for a startup so appealing?
It is the fact that you can begin working on something when the product is merely an idea or concept. You get to lay the groundwork and watch the company, its employees, and the product itself grow over time. As an early stage employee or possible partner, you get to take pride in how the product develops and you almost take it as your personal responsibility to ensure its success.
This is why people want to work for startups! They have a burning desire to challenge themselves, they do not want to be a number at some massive company. Granted, some larger tech companies do a great job in trying to make each employee feel like a person and not a number. I have spoken to some people from LinkedIn and Google (to name two of the largest) before and they informed me as such. However, that might not be the case for all companies and I am not implying that is the case for every employee at Google or LinkedIn. Back to the point, startups are and have been a thriving section of the business world for people to work in and more people are wanting to start small. However, as I have stated, they are not for everyone and there is nothing wrong with that.
So my questions for you is, “Where do you stand?”. Do you burn to be challenged, to be pushed, wanting to expand your knowledge and wanting to push the boundaries of business and innovation, and long for the late night hours with hopes of something greatly rewarding. If so, working for a startup might be for you! However, I must warn you that due to recent trends of working for startups, do not simply expected to get a job that gives you $100k a year with 25% equity and be a billionaire in two years. There seems to be an on-going belief nowadays that reaching the Elite groups on the Forbes is solved simply by creating a mobile app and you are done. Startups are hard working and fast-paced businesses that will not hesitate to push the waste to the curb.