Not everyone needs to launch a startup themselves. But do you ever have thought about working for a startup? We compiled both the advantages and downsides we experienced while working with startups for two and a half years.
Startups are exciting! There are always new challenges, new approaches. You are just bound to leave your comfort zone – you will take up responsibilities that you would have to wait years for in a corporate environment. You will do things you did not know you were able to do … and get better every day.
You will personally and immediately influence the way, the company develops.
You Create Your Own Job (Partly, At Least)
In a startup, you will wear more hats than the job description mentions. Sometimes these are too big, other times they are too small – the perfect fit is not important. More important is that you wear that hat, fill that role until someone joins the team who can do it better. Then, you surrender the role and you continue learning.
It is imporant to not to see yourself as an employee but as a co-entrepreneur – and act accordingly.
Find New Ways and Methods
Always assume that the founders who have you hired for a certain role have no idea how to fill that role. Otherwise, they would not need you. If you need someone to tell you every day what you are supposed to do, a startup is probably not the ideal work environment for you. But, if you are good at what you do and you want to learn and improve, you will find more opportunities in a startup than in a traditional company.
Use the Amazing Learning Opportunities
Apart from all experiments, new tools, and new methods of working, other people are your most important learning resource; naturally, this includes your co-founders and co-workers. Because in a startup, you share knowhow as often and as transparent as possible to create as much traction as possible.
Most importantly, you can learn a lot from interesting customers, investors, and mentors.
You Can (Almost) Work the Way You Want
Of course, the way you work should be compatible with what your team needs: remote working, working from home, or together with you team in an office space; very early or very late. The work hours are obviously more relaxed than in a corporate environment.
Also: You do not need to go all-in immediately. If you have knowhow that’s valuable for a startup, you can also start with a few hours a week. Get a feel for startup-work and slowly build up your engagement from there.
Strengthen Your Personal Network
Whether at validation Q&As with industry experts, during interviews with journalists, fireside chats with mentors, or at pitch events: The opportunities to add contacts to your personal network are endless – if you know how to use the moments to your advantage.
Things You Should Be Prepared for
We made the conscious decision not to call them “disadvantages”, because these aspects have advantageous sides as well.
A LOT of work. Even if you just have a small role or work only part-time in a startup. Be prepared to work more than you agreed to. Not because you are expected to do so, but because everyone else has the same commitment.
The pay is going to be less than in a conventional permanent position in the beginning. Possibly, there may not even be compensation in the early stages, for the simple reason that there is no product to be made money with. So, you may need to find a way to finance your expenses. On the other hand, in case of an exit you might be set for life – if you joined the startup early.
A startup job is not necessarily a safe job. The only safe assumption is that you are not going to work there until you retire. That is something you should be aware of. It could be that you have to wait a few days for your paycheck because the company must pay rent for the servers first.
9 to 5 and recreation? Possibly not. Except during work. Slack, git, and Asana offer a lot of agile work but that also means that someone is always working and can be reached at all times. This easily can create a lot of pressure.
Something you must be able to accept
Constant change. No work day is going to be like the other. Spontaneity and occasional chaos is part of your daily routine. If it turns out that your test customers would pay money for self-coded tool but not for the actual business idea, the founders might need to pivot – and everything changes in the space of a few hours. Which might also mean that the work of half a year ends up lying around somewhere, unused.
A Thought On How to Successfully Work for a Startup
Do not think about how your startup position might look in your CV. Think about how you can contribute to the company’s success – how will you use your strengths and how will the startup benefit from your skills?
Still Want To Be a Founder Yourself?
Our Startup School is the ideal opportunity to join the startup scene.