What you should think before planning to work for a startup ?

9 minute read


Selecting the correct job is really important as ultimately you would be dedicating a significant potion of your life to that particular company or startup. Working 5 days a week 8-9 hours each day is a tedious task. And if you do the math you will understand that the time left for your family and yourself is pretty minimal. In that case you should select a job where you would enjoy. If not you would be miserable a significant portion of your life!

Employment is a broad subject and I’m pretty sure there are many factors to consider, and I’m not experienced for that particular discussion. I wish to focus on my experiences and thoughts working on numerous startups to evaluate what you should analyze before you plan work in a startup. I believe this will also help the Founders of the startups when they are faced with the tough task of recruitment.

Startups’s are awesome they are dynamic. It is the next new cool idea that you will be working on. And if you are a person of such dynamic calibre a startup would suit you great. But these are what I feel that you should consider before your decision.

1. Your Personality

Does your personality really suit you for a startup. Are you are looking for a stable job, with a fixed job role?.A risk averse person who is looking for job stability may be more suited in a well established organization with a stable pay. If you are not ready to take the risk or if you do not have the passion it will be really hard for you to fit in the startup culture.

2. Do you believe in the startup idea / the problem that they are solving ?

Startups are driven by a group of people who work together towards solving a particular problem. They are really passionate in what they do and what they want to achieve. For a startup to be successful all the employees should also be driven through that passion, not just the Founders or the CEO. If you believe in the idea and the problem they are working on, it will be something you will be interested in working on and the job role would suit you well.

Thoughts to Founders - >

I believe that this is of high importance both to the Founders and the employees. To begin with, if the person is passionate enough about the task, he or she is not your “employee”. That person is your friend and team member whom you work with to achieve your unified objective and the culture would be entirely different. Ideally the team will be driven through passion and with minimal oversight.

It is highly important that the Founders explain clearly their novel idea, what they are trying to achieve with the challenges they face in a realistic manner to the prospective candidates who will be working with them.

This is not another investor pitch with fancy marketing, always be truthful of the current startup situation, and if you do so you will be benefited with building a highly motivated team to achieve the goals and be successful compared to frustrated individuals.

3. Risk & Rewards

Compared to a well established company the risk profile of a startup is significantly high. Thus its important to assess whether the provided salary is sufficient. It’s important to have some understanding about the startup, of their financial stability and how much runway they are left with to ensure that you have better understanding on the risk that you are faced with. It is normal for a startup to offer share options for their early recruits which would be a crucial motivator for work as well as a form of risk mitigation for the recruit.

Thought to Founders ->

You have taken huge risk in forming a startup to achieve success, and you would be the key shareholders. Let the startup be bootstrapped or funded, it is important to allocate your team a fair share option in order to ensure that the risk they are undertaking is also fairly compensated. You should be able to see that the team is also bearing a great portion of the risk that you are presented with. In some cases their risk maybe higher!!

4. Culture

The cultural factor is of essence to both established organizations as well as startups. If you don’t fit in well to the culture within, mingle with your peers, working would be hard and would lead to frustration and second guessing your decisions.

In the startup culture ideally all should be able to chip in with their ideas and thoughts. And the environment will be such that all would be peers and can contribute towards ideas where rigid hierarchical structure would be minimal.

Thoughts to Founders ->

It might be your original idea, but if it is a new idea it is yet to be validated. Hence your thinking on achieving the startup goals may not be the best. Hence it is always important to set aside your ego and listen to your team before you focus on decisions. When the idea you are operating is novel your experiences are also minimal and its always good to hear what your team has to offer. Your team is not with you only for their salary, they are also highly motivated in contributing through their ideas, expressing thoughts will also be a crucial motivating factor.

5. Job Role

Your job role will not be static, in a dynamic startup nature your job role is also dynamic so be prepared to use your multiple skills. However it is important to identify the core job role, or the core skill set you are bringing into the startup. If the core skill set they require and your interests diverge then you may be faced with a conflict. The best practice would be to know your skills and interests and match them to see whether the particular job role suits you perfect.

Thoughts to Founders ->

Individuals with multiple skills could be a great asset to a startup. For example you might not have the investments to recruit both a Designer as well as a Software Engineer, in such case a talented Software Engineer with some designing skills will help you with the flow of business. However it is really important to clearly identify the persons core skill and the complementary skills.

6. What if the startup fail! ?

Unfortunately If the idea fails you would be searching for a new job, and even the share options that you had would be useless. So should you have a Plan B incase all of it fails?

It is important to always indulge in activities which will add value to you personally. For an example the experience you gained could be valuable, the technical skills that you developed would be valuable, in some startups your team members, your mentors could be highly skilled resulting in you absorbing knowledge and greater insights and harnessing more skills. If this is the case you would have some form of compensation in case the startup ends as a failure.

But if you haven’t gained any such skill you would be facing huge risk. Even though a startup fails the failed Founders may be seen as individuals who pursued their dreams and tried to disrupt the status quo working hard to achieve a goal. It might look positive in their resume and they would be benefitted from the new relationships, business partners they make.

In contrast the recognition the failed employees would gain could be far less. You might only be left with a resume which highlights your job role at a failed startup which will question your skills, if you are not able to portray any value added to your self during the cause of your job. Thus the importance of focussing on methods where you can improve adding value to yourself carrying out your job role.

In conclusion this article portrays some aspects which you could consider when you join a startup. The intention is not to discourage anyone but to help analyze the realistic situation. I’m pretty sure there will be many new ideas which could be integrated in this thinking framework which I have tried to formulate and looking forward for your views and thoughts on important facts and points which I might have missed, to improve this thinking framework.

Startups are interesting and exciting, and they are the future which drives change. Nothing is impossible when a skilled, passionate team is set together to achieve their dream goal. I hope this article would help Founders to setup their dream team and the potential candidates to achieve their fullest potential.