Joining a startup is not something you can do by the roll of the dice - it has to be a thoughtful decision. Even if it's a gamble, it has to be a calculated one. Thus, one should contemplate the various advantages and disadvantages of a startup before joining one.
Here are some of the disadvantages of working at a startup:
More than 85 per cent of startups fail; but they never planned to fail. It could be a case of running out of funds, fallout between co-founders, or simply a case of not being able to takeoff in the first place. Depending upon the stage at which you are joining a startup, it could be a risky proposition; especially, if the startup is in its first year or so, and hasn't gone past the product-market validation stage.
Nothing is fixed, not even your job-description, role, or who you are reporting to. One needs to be really flexible and be a team player. A software engineer can be asked for his/her views on a marketing campaign, and anyone can be asked to fill in for others who are absent. You are expected to take care of work that is not a part of your official responsibilities. This could be difficult at times, but there's no escaping it.
It's easier to disappear amongst the large number of employees at a MNC, and one can take his/her own time to get adjusted and learn. Whereas in a startup, results are expected from you right from the word go. Also, you will probably be working in a small team, which means more transparency.
A startup is always running on strict cash-flows, mostly in a bid to grab a bigger market share. So, the little and less important things might have to take a back seat. Be cautious on that seat; it could be easily broken!
Long hours, constant pressure, less holidays, working Saturdays, etc. are things that are closely associated with a startup. So be ready to work for a house on fire!
However, on a brighter note, pretty much every disadvantage can be viewed as an advantage, too!
Being among the initial employees of a startup can be a life changer, especially, if you own stocks and your company ends up having a successful initial public offering (IPO) or gets bought out by a large company. Companies in India are definitely beginning to offer generous amounts of equity.
This is the biggest advantage of joining a startup. It's the best way to learn the nitty-gritties of business. You will learn much more working for a startup, compared to doing an MBA. Startups are relentlessly fast-paced and present you with an opportunity to learn; not just about your area or department of work, but other unrelated work areas and departments as well.
Startups value people who are creative and innovative. So you can expect a lot of freedom as long as you are working in the right direction. You will not be bossed around - people who enjoy freedom while they are working can breathe easy.
The vibe in a startup is that of sheer excitement. It's the thrill of being a part of a fast-paced startup that is growing each day that produces pride, and gives one a sense of accomplishment. You will never regret the long work hours and hard work.
A startup's environment is that of a college. There are no dress-codes to be followed. You can participate in games, interesting interactions with your team mates, and other cool things that one generally associates with a college. This makes the work environment fairly chilled-out and work seems like play.
About the Author:
Aditya Rajgarhia is the CEO and Founder of Instahyre. He received a Master’s degree in Computer Science from Stanford University, and a Bachelor’s degree from Illinois Wesleyan University. Before founding Instahyre, he worked at Silicon Valley startup Clustrix.)
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