If you’re thinking about making the jump into working at a startup, this article is for you. In it, I’m going to dig into five pros of working at a startup. I’ve spent the last decade pretty much working purely in startups as a founder, an operator, and an employee. From these experiences, I’ve seen my fair share of the good and the bad to startup life.
Pro 1: You get a lot of ownership in your work.
The actual impact that you individually have on the businesses outcomes can be really tangibly felt. On the flip side of things, if you worked for a bigger tech company or a bigger company in general, you would find it a little bit harder to find the direct impact of your work on the overall business.
If you’re the type of personality that loves to see the fruits of your labor, then working for a startup might be for you. For example, if you are the only marketing manager at a small startup, as opposed to a marketing manager in the slew of marketing managers at Facebook, then the impact you’re going to have in the first case is going to be significantly greater than the one in the latter case, in which you’re one of many that are doing very similar work.
Pro 2: Friendly coworkers
When it comes to more traditional or corporate workplaces, you’re going to find that people have their guards up a little bit more because they’re thinking about how to filter themselves in the workplace.
Whereas on the other side of things, I’ve noticed that in the startup world, people tend to be more of their authentic selves and their real personalities, as opposed to putting up some sort of front. Something to note about this is that as you work your way up in terms of the size of the startup, you will start to get more politicking just because of the nature of the organization.
As an organization gets bigger, there is going to be more order that needs to be introduced into the organization in order for it to effectively function. So as a result, you’re going to see naturally some more office politics and things like that.
I remember showing up for a suit and tie sort of job and while my coworkers were friendly, in general, it was just a much more corporate environment in terms of the feel of the culture. Startups are nice in that you can show up in the day-to-day wearing a t-shirt like this and still be taken seriously for your work without having to put on some sort of front that isn’t yourself.
Pro 3: Hats up for grabs
This applies for both small and larger startups and that your job descriptions tend to be a little bit more malleable.
In other words, even though you’re hired to do one thing, you can actually do a handful of other things once you get onboarded. I’ve noticed this across my years of experience in which I’ve had to do a lot of things that weren’t in my original job description. In fact, I literally learned to sales, customer success, and marketing from having to wear different hats in past experiences of mine.
And so one of the biggest pros I can say about working at a smaller startup is that you get a large, broad sense of different experiences that you can apply. There then transferrable skills that you can use later on in other areas of work. What’s a weakness for a startup in that it may not have a lot of customers can actually be an opportunity for you because that’s how you’ll actually get the experience of what it takes to go from zero customers to your first few thousand customers.
Typically, you won’t get these sorts of experiences and more corporate workplaces. The job that you will be hired to do will largely be the job that you will do all the way through your next promotion or whatever next job description that you take on. In the startup world, it’s not uncommon for you to take a job and honestly have only half of the job description be applicable to what you’re doing in six to 12 months. So if that sounds like something that would interest you in which things don’t get too boring too fast, then the startup life might be for you.
Pro 4: Quick pivots are easy to make
This kind of relates to what I was talking about in terms of the things that you’re doing today might not necessarily be the things that you’re doing in six to 12 months. It is not uncommon for a startup to change its strategy every few months as it validates and figures out what is actually going to work and its particular market.
When you interview at a startup they are inevidently going to tell you that every single day is different. And while this is a total cliche, it is typically actually very true. There are going to be days in which you are putting out fires in one area, and then the next day you’re going to be putting out fires in a completely different area.
So this means that it’s super important that you can shift gears really quickly adapt to a new situation and still deliver results. Startups tend to not vibe too well with people that like to show up to work and do the same thing day in and day out. If you like that sort of predictability, you might enjoy a more corporate environment or a federal job where that sort of work is the standard.
Pro 5: Accelerated learnings
The fifth pro I’d mentioned about working at startup is that you tend to get accelerated learnings about business and life. In my opinion, when you work at a larger organization, it can be a little bit harder to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of how everything fits together. On the flip side of things, when you work at a startup and it tends to be a small to medium size startup, you’re going to get a better sense of how businesses actually work and what it takes to build a business from scratch.
Because of the amount of impact that you yourself or people on your team have on the overall organization, you will see what it actually takes to get a business off the ground. This can be really helpful if you ever have ambitions to starting a company in the future, or even just building a side project for yourself that might be related to a business idea. Startups are very much a place in which you see both the good and the bad, which shows you the highs and lows of business, and a much more real sense in my opinion, than when you’re part of something even bigger than yourself.
When it comes to a thousand person companies and things like that, it can just be a little bit more difficult to get these sorts of accelerated learnings. I’ve also found that these learnings apply to more than just business, but also for your personal life. For example, I have a variety of transferable life skills from the time in which we had to move offices at locations. And I had to hire some TaskRabbits to help us manufacture some Ikea furniture so that our employees were ready to for work on the Monday after our new lease started.
These sorts of skills then transferred into my personal life when I was hiring some TaskRabbits to help us with our moves so that it would be a little bit less stressful for me. This is just one quick example of a transferrable learning from having worked at a startup that can apply for both business and life. From working with constraints as well, you will learn how to get more out of your time. For example, it’s from working in a startup that I learned all about virtual assistants, which I’ve covered extensively on my channel.
There are two things that I want you to remember when it comes the pros of working at a startup:
- The first one to remember is that ownership is big when it comes to thinking about the pros of working at a startup. If you don’t like accountability, then work in a startup is probably not for you.
- The second big takeaway is expect to get a lot of accelerated learnings in the years that you are working in a startup. Oftentimes, for every year at a startup, it can feel like the equivalent of working two years in a larger more corporate setting.
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