For different people, joining a start-up will mean different things. This will depend on what stage the start-up is at, the expected rewards and risks you are putting yourself into. Generally, people who get into a startup at early stages bear a greater potential for getting a great reward. As the company grows, they get an opportunity to make a substantial impact. However, those who come in early also bear the greatest risk in case the start-up fails. The learning experience and accompanying benefits though offset the risks. Those who come in a little bit later once the company has gone through the initial stages take on fewer risks, but their rewards are minimal. Whether you are from a big company or straight from college, below are five things to consider before going to work for a startup.
Although startups come with an allure and excitement that is lacking in well-established companies, they are not all glamorous. Each day you will have to overstep your comfort zone. There are risks involved both at personal and company levels. A lot of start-ups fail despite their having visionary leadership and great ideas. When this happens, it is very easy for you to get yourself in financial peril. This is more so in case your payment is done in the form of company equity. Before joining the company, seek to know their current financial position. Also, find out what stage the company is at. Joining very early may mean that the company is working on a shoe string budget as opposed to one where there is established revenue and customer base.
The Competitive Situation
Every business has its competitors that employees should be aware of. This is in relation to their field of specialization and how the external environment will affect its future. There should be healthy competition within the field. The company should have a consistent plan and an effective feedback system. In a startup, tactics and strategies may keep changing. You should, therefore, be prepared to adapt to the volatility.
This being a start-up, you would not want to get involved in an organization that could ruin your professional reputation. This can happen on different levels. The company’s work environment should be friendly. All stakeholders should be treated with dignity and not a single sign of contempt indicated. The company should also only involve itself in ethical processes. The company culture should not violate your personal beliefs. Get to know who the directors and founders are, where they used to work and what their reputation is. Get the background information of the management team before hand.
Career Progression Opportunities
To begin with, you should properly understand what your role in the organization will be. Will you have a significant responsibility and what chances are there for your career progression? In case there is this chance, you should get a clear picture of how success in the job would be achieved and where it will lead you. Get an understanding of what you would be required to portray to gain more responsibility and if you are up to the task. A company that shows some initial momentum is likely to have potential and the more the chances for your growth.
The Market Share
The startup you are working for should serve a big enough need that will keep people and companies buying. It should have performed market research studies before venturing into the market to be certain that it will have its portion to satisfy. Where there are few competitors, this could mean that the market is not big enough. Where there are too many, it could mean that a lot of work will be necessary to acquire its own market share. Get to understand what their opportunity is and why existing companies may not have ventured there. This way you will have an idea of what you are getting involved with.
Working for a startup requires a lot of energy and can be challenging. It is your responsibility to keep evaluating the risks involved and if you are up to the task. Weigh your options and only take the leap if you feel that the upside outweighs the risks.
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