We’ve all seen the movies and read about the awesome perks about working for a startup, but there are some questions you need to ask yourself before accepting that job offer or even before you start applying to a Texas startup.
How much structure do you need?
If your ideal work situation includes any amount of repetition, you might reconsider the appeal of working for a startup. While there are certain tasks that need to be completed each day or week around the same time, there’s also a lot of fluidity to schedules at a startup. Using perks like remote work and flexible schedules to attract team members, means work is less about getting a certain number of hours in each week and more about accomplishing goals. Our dev team works on a schedule of sprints, but each one is different and set-up to develop and refine a new feature of our product. The weeks leading up to the release of our beta, the whole team was putting in around 60 hours a week, if not more. There were nights some of us worked until past midnight and even on the weekends. This isn’t typical by any means, but if you’re schedule can’t handle these occasional heavy loads, you’ll be more satisfied at a company that offers a 9-5 work arrangement rather than flexible work schedules.
Can you work outside your comfort zone?
Startups are known for having a very flat corporate structure and small teams. This means that you’re often given tasks and responsibilities that could go above your level of expertise or past experience. You’ll also get to wear multiple hats – one day you might be focused on external sales and the next you could be tackling event planning. If you love the idea of a constant challenge, a startup may be your dream come true. Working for Imagine Careers there’s not a week that goes by that I don’t have to work on a new skill. Many of the items on my to-do list are things I’d ever thought I’d be doing, but it’s been fun for me to keep learning. You’re idea of fun might be completely different (totally understandable!), but the camaraderie that develops when you work on a small team might still appeal to you. If that’s the case, you should consider looking into established companies, that have less than 50 employees.
Can you handle uncertainty?
A level of uncertainty doesn’t apply to just your job responsibilities, but also to how long you’ll have a job with the startup. While anyone who works for a startup believes in the solution they’re creating (see question 5), the hard truth is 80 to 90 percent of startups don’t succeed. When you work for a startup you are taking the risk that you’ll work hard and put in long hours, and it still might fail. Of course, the learning opportunities are beyond compare, but working towards a goal you don’t end up reaching can be tough to handle. If you’re lucky enough to be able to take the risk, the rewards can be more than worth it. But if you have responsibilities (spouse, children, house, etc.) this uncertainty can leave you distracted at work, which isn’t beneficial to you or the startup.
Are you in it just for the perks?
I’m not just talking about the perks like a beer fridge or foosball in the office. There’s also the strong appeal of a flexible schedule, remote work options, and not having to figure out the difference between business and business casual dress code. While finding that perfect cultural fit is paramount when choosing a company to work for, there are other factors to consider when going to work at a startup. You can find these same perks at companies that aren’t startups, there are even corporate companies that are starting to build them into their cultures. If the perks are the reasons you want to work for a startup, you might want to research established companies that can provide you the same options – you might be surprised by what you find!
Does the startup’s purpose or mission resonate with you?
Even more important than the perks that a startup offers is their reason for being. The purpose or mission that drives the founders, and the rest of the team, will be the biggest determination of their culture. While there are fun perks that help shape a startup’s culture early on, these will evolve as the company and team grows. More enduring than early perks will be the startup’s mission. If talking with the founder(s) gets you excited to come to work because you feel that same passion, you’ll know you found the right place to work. Believing in the problem the startup is trying to solve will make you more engaged and more willing to ride out the rough spots. As the company grows beyond being an early-stage startup, it won’t be the perks that determine the company’s culture, but the passion and commitment of the team.
This last question is the most important. When you really believe in a company’s mission, startup or not, everything else seems to fall into place. Being passionate about your company means you won’t dread getting up for work on Monday, the occasional late nights won’t frustrate you, and you won’t need perks to make you happy in the office.