As I started writing on the topic, naturally, my first instinct was to google it and see if I could relate to other people’s experiences with startups. Well, the results were not encouraging and multiple times I thought of changing the topic to, “Should you work for startups?” However, the reason I stuck with this topic was that we are living in an entirely different part of the world where startups are not “just another thing” rather they are gaining recognition at a remarkably quick pace.
The usual path to establishing a career is changing as more startups are emerging in the country. Now, I won’t say that it is completely changed but it is in the transitioning phase. The usual path of earning a degree from a top university with internships and impressive references and then landing a good job at a well-recognized company is not working out for everyone in the country. Many youngsters have switched from their chosen career paths to a much more promising future such as freelancing or progressing IT industry.
Well, as a Chinese proverb says, “When the winds of change blow, some people build walls. Others build windmills.” Let’s see if making a windmill is relatable to working for a startup at times of Job scarcity in the big companies of the country.
I have devised a few questions which will make it easy to understand the value of startups and maybe even help you decide if you are built for startups.
1. Do you embrace challenge or routine?
If I give you a puzzle to solve such that each time you solve a puzzle you wil be given another one with increased level of difficulty. Will you love the challenge of solving new and difficult puzzles? Or will you back out preferring to solve one puzzle again and again just to perfect your timing? If you are among the later ones, then you are not built for startups.
Each day at a startup is a challenge which may be more difficult than the previous challenge you encountered. If you love taking up new and unknown challenges then startups are the place for you. However, if you want to follow a 9-5 routine then by all means go for it but do not apply for a startup job.
2. Do you want to be hired for your passion or for your experience?
The hiring process at startups is different from most big companies. It is quick and most of the times does not require years of experience. Startups will take a chance on you if you are willing to work hard and exhibit passion. However, startups do not want to hear your success stories which are not related to the job you are applying to.
Once I had the chance of sorting CVs for content writers as a favor to a friend and I realized that what a huge pain it is for people at the hiring end. The job description clearly identified the traits my friend was looking for in a content writer. However, most people had send their CVs without even bothering to change it according to the job description. Some of them were gold medalists, others were shining starts of societies or had several research papers to their credit with no links to the so-called papers. And then people say that they are not given jobs.
Read also: A Quick Job Preparation Course for Graduates
Trust me, from personal experience, you will get a quick reply if you stay within the job description, concise and to the point. Once you are called for an interview, be truthful and open about what you want to achieve and what you can give to a particular job position at a startup.
3. Do you want to be recognized for your work or suffer in silence?
Startups are based on small teams which range between 10-100 employees. Small teams have its own advantages such as it is easier to convey and propagate your ideas. You can receive instant feedback and improve your work. Everyone on the team including the founder is in their learning phase and what can be more fun than learning together. The best thing is if you are good at what you do, you may even be recognized and appreciated for your work.
This is not true for corporate world where people involved in pulling each other’s leg and there is so much dirty politics around. You are likely to be pulled down two steps with every one step of progress. So do you want to suffer or feel appreciated?
4. Are you a learner or a follower of standards?
If you have the habit of saying, “this is not in my job description” then you cannot tolerate a startup. It is possible that you may have to go above or beyond your job description with no extra incentives offered to you. You will have to work hard and independently most of the times at a startup. However, you can get experience in different areas which can shine on your resume or may even result in learning skills applicable to other jobs in future.
5. Do you want to be an entrepreneur?
If you want to be an entrepreneur, then it is a good idea to start working for a startup. Being in the center of entrepreneurship can lead to a roller coaster of learning experience. You will get to learn about different business models and core principles of starting one’s own business. You may even build important connections which can help in funding your startup idea. Most of all, if you have seen someone living the life of an entrepreneur, you will feel ready and comfortable to live that life yourself.
6. Do you believe in new ideas?
Startups are all about changing the world through new ideas or even re-inventing the old ones. The only way you can survive in a startup is that if you believe in the idea and if you don’t then you will be a misfit wasting his/her time. Believing in the idea is important for both the employer and the employee. Employers want a team which can converge and work hard towards shaping the idea into a reality. As an employee, you want to believe in the idea because it will help you wake up every morning and go to work happily.
Before you get all excited, read this..
You may have passed the above questions and may even be excited to work for a startup but remember there are certain downsides. For starters, if you are trying to make both ends meet, startups may not be the right place for you. Many startups pay well but it may never be enough if you are a responsible for your family. However, startups can still kick start your career if you are willing to spend a year or so in gaining experience from a startup.
Secondly, startups may fail and you could be jobless in just a day. This can be avoided, though. A good rule of thumb is to choose a well-reputed startup which is out of its initial phase of development; say, it has survived at least a year or so.
Thirdly, you may get emotionally attached to a startup especially if you have helped in building it from ground up. This may come as a hindrance in going for better prospects. The only way out of it is, “Don’t get emotionally attached” and keep aiming higher. I think if you get really comfortable with your job or if it does not make you happy anymore then it’s time to move on. This is another way to avoid the emotional trap.