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If you have ever worked for a bigger company and are now considering joining a startup, be prepared—you will definitely see a difference.
Based on my experience, I can say that working in a startup is not for everyone. It is not a Monday to Friday, 9–5 job. It takes a lot from you, and it can be extremely demanding. At the same time, it can be super rewarding, and you can grow personally more than you ever thought possible.
Want to find out if you could work for a startup company? Take a look at the points I list in this post. Working for a startup has been an amazing experience for me—could it be the same for you?
Imagine flexible working hours and the freedom to choose your own schedule. Can you already see long weekends and vacations in your mind? Well, that is not exactly what flexibility means in a startup, but it can be a part of the truth. Still, I need first to say that if you want to work for a startup company, be prepared to toil. You will never run out of things to do—there is always work to be done. Normal working hours do not apply to startups, and you need to be extremely flexible. If you need to work in the evening or during the weekend, then that is what it takes.
However, the flexibility brings also perks. You are not late to work because you do not have a certain time to be at the office. If some morning you want to sleep longer, you can. Then you just work later that day or more the next day. If you want to have a long weekend and go for a small vacation, it is normally quite easily arranged. Employees in startups also work remotely home often, so you save time and money on travel. Nonetheless, be prepared to arrange your work yourself—no one is going to do it for you. You are responsible for keeping your own schedule and making sure that the work gets done. This responsibility demands extreme self-discipline and proactiveness.
You can be the sales manager but still contribute to marketing or R&D. You help in everything you can. What’s best is that everyone in the team helps each other with their own expertise. You are working towards common goals, so supporting each other is crucial.
Working in a startup is a great opportunity to learn and develop your skills. Not only do you get experience in the industry and your own position, but at the same time, you improve your language, communication, and presentation skills. You will also learn about an entrepreneurship because you have the possibility of contributing to developing the business model—pricing, internationalisation plans, marketing, sales, partnerships, and so forth. The sky is the limit.
Especially in early phase startups, the team is small, and the hierarchy is nothing like in big corporations. Often you can be “your own boss”. Again, there are two sides to everything. If you are a person who works efficiently without someone telling you all the time what to do, startup life can be for you. You are expected to be proactive and bring your creativity to the table. Are you up for it?
I am not asserting that you could not be innovative in a big organisation. However, in a startup, you have a free hand to implement your ideas because you do not have to ask for permission from your boss for every decision. Often, you do not have a big budget either, so you need to find ways to be agile and survive with scarce resources.
This is my favourite part: the team. When the team is small, and you are passionate about the same thing, you get inevitably close to each other. In a startup company, work is often more than just work. The line between your working time and free time can blur, but you are okay with it. Just like when you are truly passionate about something, you get more out of it than you give.
Therefore, you should never join a startup in which you do not believe. It is vital that you have your heart in it. You need to be passionate to be able to push forward and give all you got. That is what the company needs to succeed: a team that is passionate about the company mission and willing to go beyond what is expected.
In a startup, you get the feeling of being an entrepreneur. You may actually start to feel like it is your own company—and at some point, it can become yours, or at least partly. Many startups offer options or ownership over the company instead of salary or as part of it.
If you are lucky and the startup succeeds, you have a great chance to move forward in your career and gain even more responsibility. When the startup grows, it is likely that you will get a promotion. If you are looking for leadership responsibilities, this could be your chance.
All in all, consider your personality and capabilities before joining a startup. Are you proactive and eager to learn? Are you always up for a challenge, and do you want to see what entrepreneurship is like? If you say yes to these questions, startup life could be for you. Find a startup responding to your passion and go for it. Be prepared for an experience of a lifetime.