Working in a startup can be a very exciting experience – the ‘no-rules’ atmosphere, lack of hierarchy, the cool perks and the conviction that you’ll be changing the world. But, however happening it may seem from afar (and plenty of times, it really is that awesome), there are a couple of things that you should keep in mind if you’re planning to work for a startup.
1. Change is Constant
Unlike corporates and established businesses that have a well-defined hierarchy, roles, processes and procedures, startups survive on pivoting and changing at the drop of a hat. Things like job titles, desk assignments, reporting structures, and project plans are changed more frequently than the filter in the office coffee pot, and though this can be frustrating, you have to embrace the chaos if you wish to succeed.
2. Its All Hands on Deck, Every Single Time
When it comes to startups, there is no such thing as a fixed job. While you will technically have a job description, you will be required to do pretty much everything; from answering phones to cracking ideas and presenting proposals to new clients. You will have to be a team player and be willing to do anything and everything that crosses your desk.
3. Veterans are an Opportunity to Learn
Most start-ups begin with a few brilliant individuals, an idea and a couple of highly-motivated employees who will burn the midnight oil to turn the idea into reality. Then, when the company begins to get a whiff of success, they may bring in some experts to take the company to the next level. Though they may seem like an affront to your hardwork, don’t treat them like competition. Instead use this opportunity to learn from the very best in the industry; people who normally would have been completely inaccessible to you.
4. Perks are Not a Part of the Culture
While startups love rewarding their employees for a job well done and handing out perks left, right and center, they should be taken as just that – Perks. Once you start assuming that it will be a part of the culture, it will be disappointing if the leadership decides that they can no longer afford these types of luxuries.
5. Always Assess the Risk In Advance
Though the thought of working for a startup can be exciting, it’s important to do your homework in advance. Start-ups can become shut-downs very quickly. It’s one of the inherent risks in working for one. And while you may assume that you’ll be the first to know about potential problems that may not always be the case, it’s your responsibility to learn as much as you can about your company’s performance and trajectory in advance so that you don’t have to face any nasty surprises.
Working for a start-up will require you to adjust your conception of the workday. You’ll be putting in longer days (and later nights), your responsibilities will be ever-changing, and the company you’ve worked so hard for could blossom overnight or crash and burn. But if you accept your job for what it is (a promising opportunity to learn) and what it isn’t (a sure thing), this can be a great way to kick-start your career.