Home Is a Job at a Startup Right For You?

Is a Job at a Startup Right For You?

In a post this morning, prominent VC Albert Wenger offers some career advice in response, he says, to questions he is repeatedly asked about how to enter into the startup world.

Wenger observes that while many people think they want to be entrepreneurs, few actually are cut out to do so. In order to gauge whether or not entrepreneurship is right for you, Wenger advises you “look at the things you have already done. If you have never taken the initiative to create something from scratch (and even if that something is just a new club at school) you are probably not well suited to being an entrepreneur.”

Joining a Startup as an Employee

But even if starting a business isn’t your thing, working at a startup might still have some appeal. But as Wenger notes, this takes a lot of initiative as jobs as startups are often not advertised (although startup job boards such as Startups Hiring and Greenhorn Connect are popping up to help connect new businesses with prospective employees). And while being a generalist might help in the early stages of a startup where everyone wears multiple hats, you do need to distinguish yourself by possessing specific and necessary skills.

Wenger also cautions against joining startups as a non-co-founder if that startup doesn’t have clear traction or investor backing. “The risk-reward ratio is worst for non-founders in pre-traction/pre-funding situations,” he writes. In other words, it’s important to do your homework before applying for a job at a startup.

In addition to assessing whether or not a startup has traction and funding, you may want to look at the founders and at startup culture. Is it really a team you want to work for? While company culture and company leadership may be important at any job, arguably working for a startup tends to expose you to that at a much more personal level.

The Right Personality for the Job

Just as a successful entrepreneur requires a certain personality, great drive and a fierce work ethic, arguably a startup employee should share those characteristics too, characteristics “such as being able to get things done without a bureaucracy.”

Indeed, if you are simply looking for a “job,” as one of the commenters on Wenger’s post observes, you might be best just applying for one at an established company.

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