Guest author Matthew Bryan Beck is editorial director of The New York Digital.
Everyone wants to work for a hot startup. They’re hip, fun and run by passionate, creative people with exciting, innovative ideas. But working at that awesome startup can come at a cost to your career and your sanity. Consider these points before quitting your safe, secure position at a big, established company:
1. The Hours Are Long
Young companies building a new product or service from the ground up run on small teams, limited resources and no time to spare. And they expect their people to give 110% to the job. Your social life outside the office will likely suffer, and the pressure to stay later and later can make you feel like a deserter if you need to leave the office on time for personal reasons.
2. The Pay Sucks
Unless you’re a senior executive of a startup, your compensation may leave something to be desired. The bulk of startup funding goes into the operations and product first, and the people second. For the amount of hours you can be required put in each week, the pay may feel inadequate. The tradeoff that startups offer is the cool factor - plus equity and stock packages. And there may be perks like free snacks and lunches, beer kegs, discounted gym memberships, yoga classes, flexible vacation time, ping-pong, etc.
3. Big Egos Rule
Startups are built on exciting ideas from brilliant minds, but those can also come with egos. Like any workplace, many startups have a pecking order. While most startups advertise a spirit of open forum and democratic exchange of ideas, you may have to earn your stripes before your input is valued and your ideas are implemented. Visionaries are, understandably, protective of their visions, and you may find yourself in a work environment that feels more like a tyranny than a democracy. (Note: Please make sure you're not the one with the ego.)
4. Distractions, Distractions, Distractions
Startups pride themselves on a casual, hoodie-and-jeans company culture, the antithesis of the stereotypical corporate suit. Open, collaborative, cubicle-free working environments foster a sense of community and togetherness. But the frat-house vibe can also be counterproductive and result in a lack of oversight and structure. In this kind of less-than-professional office, employees may get too chummy, spending more time on Facebook, socializing, coffee runs and cigarette breaks than getting work done.
5. You Probably Won't Last
Many new startups suffer from the revolving door syndrome, struggling to keep a stable team. Sometimes they hired the wrong people, but sometimes the person shown the door is you. A recent study of 20,000 new hires by research firm Leadership IQ found that 89% of the time new hires failed, it was for ‘attitudinal reasons’, not lack of skill. Make sure you are a good fit for the startup before submitting your resume. If you do get the job, make sure to bring (and keep) a good attitude.
So Now What?
Keeping positive, staying loyal and consistently producing high-quality work is the best way to impress any company. Working for a startup can be a sacrifice of time and money, but it's also a commitment that can pay off if the company grows rapidly. Many startup employees move on to form their own companies or parlay their experience into an in-demand calling card. If you think you have what it takes, don't let these warnings slow you down.
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