Things to Know Before Joining a Startup

start up companyThe world of startup companies is ever-changing, quick paced, and calls for brilliant minds who can think on their feet without buckling under pressure. The environment of a startup provides many opportunities but it also presents many risks that one should fully evaluate and understand before making a committment. Read below for a few common things you should know before joining a  company:

  1. No standard salary and no benefits: A salary figure at a startup is going to fluctuate a lot more than at an established corporation. With that being said, negotiations for compensation may vary depending on whether the startup is well-funded or barely getting off the ground. Additionally, many times startups don’t offer benefits like a dental or healthcare plan simply because they are not in good financial standing to do so. However, as a startup gains funds and financial stability, often times compensation and benefits are set in motion as the company grows in success. When joining a startup, you’ll have to look beyond salary and benefits to see if you truly want to work there. Financial uncertainty is certainly a commodity to keep in mind but the importance of the mission may or may not take precedence over the monetary conditions.
  2. The culture is constantly evolving: As I said above, the culture of a startup company is in constant rotation. At a large corporation, a new employee is hired into a pre-existing culture but at a startup, a new employee is assisting in creating that culture. Depending on things such as work ethic, person to person interaction, daily practices, etc., the culture of a startup company solicits people who are quick to adapt to a changing environment and work well with others of the same traits.
  3. Lack of structure — or even a boss: It’s difficult to go from college where professors give constant direction, to a startup company where you’re responsible for your own tasks. In this aspect, you’ve got to be self-serving and comfortable taking charge when a leadership role for yourself or others needs to be filled. You must be mentally prepared to work in a fluid environment with very little authoritative feedback or potentially, no feedback at all. For some, this is difficult because feedback gives you insight into what you could have done better for future consideration. However, in a startup company, often times you are your own coach, mentor, and teacher. While this may seem daunting at first, it also allows for large growth in leadership roles and management positions which are great skills for future careers.
  4. Pressure to always work: Imagine finals week … now imagine it day after day for the duration of your time at a startup company. Work is constant and sometimes overwhelming, so you have to be prepared to take on difficult challenges. Schedules are often unpredictable and fluctuate with the amount of work that needs to be done. On the bright side, you’ll never be bored.
  5. Lack of resources: In a startup company, YOU are the resource. You may not have an HR department, or a tech support team, so you have to be able to solve problems on your own with assistance only from your fellow employees. However, there are plenty of ways to teach yourself new skills, techniques, and knowledge through online tutorials and videos. YouTube will quickly become your best friend.

Now that you’ve made it this far in the blog, take a moment to breathe. Yes, working for a startup company can be difficult but every job has challenges. Startup companies offer amazing opportunities to be apart of a new organization and create something unlike anything seen before. While the list above presents several aspects of startup companies to be well aware of, it shouldn’t shut down the idea of joining a startup just because it seems demanding. Through perseverance and dedication to the cause, you can overcome these challenges. All it takes is a little effort and an eagerness to succeed through experience.

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By Carrye Simmons
Carrye Simmons Peer Coach Carrye Simmons