Working at a Startup: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
If you're lucking enough to be considering a specific startup opportunity, here are some important questions to consider:
What are the co-founders like? Of course, they should be talented, driven and visionary. However, there are other, perhaps more important qualities to consider. First, are there co-founders or was the company started by a single person? Starting a company takes a tremendous amount of work and is incredibly emotionally demanding.
Companies started by two or more co-founders often are better able to deal with the work load and emotional requirements. Take the time to really understand the character of the co-founders and focus particularly on assessing how determined and persistent they are. Many successful investors believe that persistence trumps talent in the startup world. Being a co-founder with someone is like being married to that person in that one spends almost every waking moment with their partner(s) dealing with some of the most difficult issues around (priorities, money, etc.).
Get a good sense of how healthy the relationship is and how they deal with and resolve conflict.
Are you ready for a totally immersive experience? If youve seen the movie Avatar, you'll know what it feels like to be transported to a new, fascinating and alien world. For many people, their first experience at a startup is like that. The intensity and the speed at which things happen and need to be done are completely different from just having a job. If you buy into how the startup is trying to change the world (and if you don't, it may not be the right opportunity for you), be ready for it to take over your life. You'll end up thinking about the problem of the day in the shower, as you're falling asleep, when you wake up. It truly becomes a 24/7 kind of experience.
Can you handle the emotional roller coaster? According to startup veterans, your company's prospects can go from being great to utterly hopeless and back to great all in the space of a few hours. The highs are really highs that few in the corporate world get to experience but the lows can be pretty bad too. This can be exhilarating but emotionally exhausting as well. Be aware that everyone talks about this roller coaster but few appreciate just how intense it truly can be until they're actually in it.
Will you be able to switch directions without much advance notice? Many, if not most, successful startups take a while to find their market. There is a lot of experimentation and many dead ends. Because many startups are in fast-moving and highly-competitive market spaces, these changes can happen without much warning. For some, this can be frightening and demoralizing. If you can maintain equanimity and believe Winston Churchill's observation that success consists mainly of moving from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm then perhaps working at a startup is right for you.
Are you ready to have the time of your life? While the hours are long and the engagement required is total, many denizens of the startup world are amazed at just how much fun it is. If you ask around, you'll often hear that work doesn't seem like work. There can be an incredible sense of excitement and purpose being part of a group of equally committed and enthusiastic individuals. The adrenaline rush of knowing that what you do makes an important difference, even a pivotal one, can be one of the most satisfying experiences of your life.
The opportunities for finanical returns are compelling but the emotional and professional returns can be even more so. If you think you've got it in you, contact us today to see what opportunities are available.