Startups are unlike your typical workplaces. When an outsider describes it, your reaction would either be wonder and awe, or a little bit of confusion as to how things work. Even if you have been exposed to Startup workplaces before, we’ve compiled a list of 10 things to consider before joining a Startup.
It’s not very easy to describe how exactly a Startup workplace would be like. Each company has a different culture, owing to the people who founded the company and its early employees. Each workplace has a different environment, people, mindset, and many other things.
If you haven’t worked at a Startup before, then this post has a list of things to consider when joining a Startup.
Who are the founders of the Startup?
Seriously, before you join a Startup, you should definitely try to find out about its founders. Who are they? Where do they come from? What’s their background and what have they achieved?
You need to know about them, not only because they are the owners of the company you are hoping to work for, but because you need to be confident of their abilities before you start to put time and effort into their company.
Don’t judge the founders on their past failures. At the same time, if they were successful before, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be successful again. But what matters is how the founders handle the situation when things go crazy. So Google them up right now and figure if the founders are people you’d like to catch up with over coffee.
Where does the money come from?
One of the most important things to consider when joining a Startup is the money. Where does the money come from? Is the Startup bootstrapped and highly profitable (very rare)? Or are they venture-backed and have millions in their bank account?
Either way, you should try to find out whether the company has what it takes to survive the next 6-12 months, because if they don’t and you have even the slightest doubt, you need to start asking for assurances. While you may feel squeamish while asking someone for this information, it is crucial to your well-being and future.
What stage is the Startup in?
Let’s face it guys, there are few rewards in life that you can get without taking risks. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t do any calculations prior to taking a risk.
What stage is the Startup you’re considering to join presently at? Joining an early-stage venture that’s not received traction for their product and don’t have seed funding is a gamble. Unless you’re 100% convinced of the idea and the founders, your risk will get multiplied with doubt. Things don’t get any better after that.
On the other hand, if the Startup has gained initial traction, with the product showing promise and customers receiving it very well, it might be a great time to jump in. Chances are, the company is trying to secure funding. If you get in before that happens, you might pick up some equity or attractive ESOPs. Think wisely, and if you think it’s going to work, jump right in.
Related Article: 9 Things To Know Before You Join A Startup
Of course, the lowest risk is to join a Startup that’s VC-funded. The company has gained enough traction and are on the right path. Chances of such a company burning down is considerably lower.
What is the work culture of the Startup?
This is perhaps one of the most important things to consider before joining a Startup. The culture of a Startup defines it. There may be times when the company’s future is in doubt, but the company’s culture is what’s going to keep everyone’s mood afloat and probably contribute towards saving the company.
There was a time when the office didn’t have a working Internet connection, some outage caused by a power cut. Instead of people packing their bags to get up and go home, a group of people started playing Gangs of Wasseypur on one laptop and hooked it up to a speaker set. Pretty soon, half the office (including the founders) were huddled around the area, all of us watching the movie.
It’s one thing for a Startup to have an amazing culture. But you also got to keep in mind that not everyone is cut out for the open culture that you find in most Startup offices.
Many people find it hard to work with all the distractions, the lack of solid hierarchy structures bother many people. You might not know it now, but it might become a constant needle on your back once you actually start working in the Startup and realize that you aren’t a fit for its culture.
What is your role in the Startup?
If you’re considering joining a Startup, probably giving up a corporate job or something else, then you need to know what your role will be in the Startup. Will you be a regular 9 to 5 employee who comes, does his job, and leaves? Or is your role going to be pivotal to the success of the company, or one of its products, or something similar?
It’s important to figure this out well in advance. Having a huge role and getting slapped with responsibilities is one thing, but when you know your exact role and its impact on the future of the company, you will be motivated to work harder. Trust me on that.
Will you have a mentor in the Startup?
If you’re joining a Startup right out of college, chances are you know nothing about the job you’ve been hired to do. Which is why it is crucial that you find a mentor in the Startup.
During my 8 months working for a Startup, I transformed from a person who would wonder how things happened to a person who’d ask for the data of how things happened, be it anything. The approach to the problem, the thought process involved is something I picked up from my mentor and my boss.
Which is why it is important for you to consider whether the founder or your boss is someone experienced who is going to guide you. Will he give you that initial nudge in the right direction before you start taking matters into your own hand? Or are you going to be thrown into chaos and confusion at your workplace?
While the second scenario isn’t as bad as it sounds (you’ll learn faster than ever when your ass is on fire), having that right mentor who shares his knowledge and experience with you, teaches you tricks of the trade, will go a long way in defining your career and your work at that Startup.
Are you flexible to work multiple roles?
If you think you’re only going to be doing the role you were hired for in a Startup, especially an early stage one, then boy are you in for a ride.
Hired for a sales role? Don’t be surprised if you have to lend a hand with marketing, or maybe business development, or maybe even updating the company’s social media pages once in a while.
Your role isn’t defined in a Startup. Sure, you’ll generally be a sales guy, but you’ll get hands-on exposure to various other roles. If you look at it the way I do, then you’d jump at every opportunity to learn as much as possible out of it.
Are you comfortable with unpredictable working hours?
On some days, you’ll enter office post-lunch and leave after the evening snack. On other days, it would be a 9 to 9 grilling session, with work carrying over for the weekend.
There are good days, then there are bad. You’ll be bored out of your mind, and you’ll also have way too much on your plate with too little time to complete everything.
It’s how working for a Startup is going to be, a roller coaster ride. And for most parts, you’re also going to love it.
Are you sold on the idea of the Startup?
Another point that far too many people ignore while considering Startup jobs is the idea of that Startup. Don’t get sold on ESOPs or a high salary too quickly. It is important for one to believe in the idea that the Startup is based on.
Doing a quick research on the history of the idea will tell you about who have tried and who have failed. You’ll learn whether the idea has already been refined by Startups in other parts of the world, or if the idea is so fresh that it is yet to be refined into its final form.
Understanding the idea, and more importantly believing in it, contributes greatly toward your mindset after you start working for a Startup. Ask yourself this – Do you just want to pick up a high paying salary, or do you want to work towards realizing an idea that you strongly believe in?
Why do you want to join a Startup?
The last point is also the most important one in this list. At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself the ‘WHY’ question while considering joining a Startup.
Why do you want to join a Startup? The answer can be – “Well, they are paying more than the corporate job.” It can also be “I love working in a high-intensity environment with lots of motivated people in the room attacking a problem day-and-night trying to solve it.”
But the most important thing is for you to realize what the answer to this question is for you.