Things You Should Know Before Working at a Start-up Company

Working for a start-up is exciting, fun, and might even be life-changing for some. The interesting job descriptions with words like “upbeat, dynamic team”, “fun and casual work environment”, and “steep growth curve” are often what drawn jobseekers, especially the millenials in. No more working in a small cubicle and rigid office dress code. You get to wear t-shirt and jeans to work, sit on a yoga ball instead of a normal chair!

What are start-ups? Start-ups are young companies that have just started in the industry or are just beginning to develop. In terms of financing and operations, they are usually small in scale and are usually founded by one or more entrepreneurs. So, a start-up is a fresh, newly-founded, and a budding company. They are also more innovative in terms of management style and company structure.

Bear in mind that not all start-ups will put you on track to Facebook-like stock options. Working for a start-up can be relatively riskier than working for other more established corporations. There are some differences between the start-up world and other type of company you’ve previously worked for. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself before signing on the dotted line.

This is a baseline requirement. You do not want to enter something you do not know, right? If the company you are applying for does not provide the growth opportunity that you’re looking for, then you should probably start looking elsewhere. It’s important that you can relate to the mission and vision of the company, especially if you want to find your work meaningful in a long run, not just work for the sake of working.

Are you comfortable with constant change?

Unlike established corporations with well-structured workflow and processes, things change fast in start-ups, like really, really fast. Don’t be surprised to find that your desk assignment change overnight, or the report format your boss told you to follow last night is not what he wants now. The constant change at work can be exhausting and hard to keep up, especially when you’re a newbie and still trying to get the hang of how things work around the office.

Are you all-in?

If you want a cushy office job with standard working hours, low stress, and fixed job scope, a start-up setting is most likely not what you’re looking for. As you can probably imagine, most start-ups don’t have rich resources like other bigger companies hence the team is usually pretty lean. If you are expecting to follow your job scope to the dot, working for a start-up might not be your thing.

You have to be all-in and a good team player. Despite the endless amount of cliches that you’ll need to do almost everything from making coffee to cleaning the office bathroom when you are in a start-up, it’s better to be mentally prepared for the unexpected. You might have an official job title and job scope, but don’t be surprised to find yourself working on a variety of takes all the time.

Are you okay with the less competitive salary/benefits?

Start-ups tend to take a different approach when it comes to rewarding their employees. Instead of the lucrative compensation in monetary form, start-ups would offer perks like weekly catered lunches, work-from-home Wednesdays, and tickets to shows. So, if you have a relatively high financial need or you have loans to pay off, think twice before joining a start-up.

In addition, the space for growth for a budding company can be huge. As the company grows, the management might slowly cut back on the perks and allocate more resources on the business. Hence, back to our first point, make sure you join the company for its vision. And that’s the only thing that can keep you motivated when the freebies slowly disappear.

Are you willing to grow with the company?

Do you remember the first time you play with a brand new Lego set? Or your first solo overseas trip? The feeling of building business from scratch is somewhat similar. Having to start a new business venture can be challenging yet extremely fulfilling especially when you truly believe in the cause.

Undoubtedly, it’s a huge risk working for a brand new company without any proven track record. But, if you really want to join a start-up and be part of the team, you must be willing to grow with the company. Don’t expect a smooth-sailing journey but the outcome will be rewarding if you manage to push through.

But they could be a good place to work for a long time

Some people may have doubts and often choose established companies rather than settle for start-ups because of the job security and assurance. But you know what, most of the time, it’s really good to work for start-ups. They might be a newbie but in the long run, they could be one of the established names in the industry. Imagine, you could be part of something great!

Find these tips useful? We have more career advice, workplace tips, and job search tips on our blog. Don’t forget to check them out!

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