Start-ups can be amazing opportunities for career growth and development, and to gain experience in areas that are more difficult to access in larger, more established corporations. They often enable employees to work in a dynamic, fast paced environment where they will work on multiple projects and gain a vast array of hard and soft skills.
But, with all that said, start-ups aren’t always the right choice for everyone. Here are some key things to consider before taking a job at a start-up.
Start-ups are notoriously fast-paced, dynamic, and often require employees to wear multiple hats and pitch in on different products and projects. For people coming from very rigid, restrictive, and structured roles, joining a start-up with freedom and some chaos can sound exciting, but it also comes at a cost.
You need to be patient to see any significant progress and you definitely need to be prepared to embrace chaos and help implement processes and structures that can streamline everything and work towards an agreed goal. There will be times when you will know what you need to achieve but not necessarily how exactly to get there. It’s often about being proactive, creative and experimental.
Leaders need to be willing to create and execute new processes, whilst junior staff members need to be willing to trust their leaders and help out across different areas where needed.
Many people jump at the opportunity to join start-ups because they believe they will help them get rich quickly, especially if they join early on in the business journey. However, in start-ups, budgets are normally tight as they are often still working to get funding. Therefore, they are usually unable to pay employees the same high salaries they might find at other companies.
Instead, start-ups often compensate their staff with more appealing benefits such as flexible and remote working, ESOPs early finish’s, dress down offices, free parking spaces, socials, and career progression opportunities.
Success for start-ups takes time and you need to be willing and patient enough to invest your trust and loyalty in a business over a long period of time. The benefit though is that if you join a start-up early you are likely to be able to put your stamp on the direction of the business and work your way up the career ladder.
Having faith in the business founders and being able to fit in with what is normally quite a small team, is integral to enjoying and thriving in a start-up environment. It’s definitely important to do your homework and research the people within the business.
If it’s the founders first time working in a start-up, it’s understandable that they might face challenges and make mistakes, but they should display forward thinking and problem-solving traits from previous roles. You should be able to determine this by looking for previous role experience and endorsements from past colleagues.
It’s also beneficial if a CEO or founder has had experience building and managing teams. If they don’t, they need a co-founder or team leader who has.
It’s also important to remember that in the early stages of a start-up, the founders and small team of employees are the culture of the business. You need to make sure you are happy in the culture that is currently existing in that business and to make sure you are comfortable working with the different personalities that are there. It’s very different working closely with a small number of people to working in a huge team of hundreds of people.
With this in mind, you also need to be confident in relationship building internally.
ESOPs are Employee Stock Ownership Plans that are provided as an employee benefit plan that gives workers ownership interest in the company, however it’s important to always read the small print that comes with these stock options. They can be a great investment when offered fairly and transparently, but some businesses have been known to use these stock options to strong arm employees to stay for a set amount of years before the stocks are fully accessible.
Always do your research and read the terms and conditions around your offer. If you’re unsure, always ask for advice.
Finally, the most important questions are ‘will you love it’ and ‘what will you get out of it’?
Look into the start-up and the products and projects and determine if they make you feel passionate and excited. Is there something to really sink your teeth into? Job satisfaction is so important, and if you’re not going to love what you do, there is little point in doing it.
Then consider what you will get out of the opportunity, even if the start-up fails or if it doesn’t work out. What skills, experience, and results will you get out of the role personally and professionally. Every opportunity can be seen and used as a learning point. Think of how much richer your experience and professional portfolio will be after working at the business. If you see value in it, it’s worth pursuing, if not, there might be better opportunities for you elsewhere.
Find somewhere that will spark your passion whilst giving you opportunities to grow and develop.
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