After shutting down my second venture, I thought I will not join any startup. I started working as a freelancer writer and marketer. I was consulting for a couple of startups and helping them grow their user base. In doing so, I was able to earn sufficient money. But when an opportunity came to join full-time the startup I've been consulting for, I made a checklist.
So, the following are some of the things I looked for in the startup. If you are considering joining one as well, you could also look into these factors.
# What value I can add to the startup
The first thing I looked at was the value proposition from my side to the startup. There is no point joining a startup if you are not confident of delivering value. You may or may not have all the required skills but you should know how much benefit you can provide to the startup. More than skills, you need an attitude to work in a startup.
It was an easy decision for me since I was consulting for them for more than two months. I knew what the startup was expecting from me and what I could deliver. Along with necessary skills, I was having a startup mindset. The founders were also confident that I will be able to deliver a lot of value to the startup.
# Who I will be working with
The next important thing was to know about the team and founders. I knew the founders for more than one year.
Good people attract more good people, so they were able to build a nice team. I was sure that future hires will also be awesome people like them.
Don’t work with someone you don’t enjoy working with. Nothing can give you more happiness than working with good people.
# What will be the role and will I be able to do it any justice
This was a tough one.
They offered me the position of full-time CMO (Chief Marketing Officer). I was excited and I accepted the offer. But soon after putting my feet into the CMO shoes, I realised that I will not be able to do justice to the role. No, not because I was feeling incapable but because I was working from a remote location.
A CMO role is a critical position where you need to work closely with the founders, team, customers and investors. I was working from a remote location while the rest of the team was working from the Delhi office. It would be difficult for a startup to redefine the culture of team for one person. It would have worked in a complete remote team where primary channel of communication is Skype & Slack.
When 90 percent of the team is working from an office location, primary communication happens unplanned, during lunch or tea breaks, asking someone for a favor, taking feedback from a team member when he is passing by your seat, and most importantly sitting with someone to get work done.
After a couple of discussions, we decided that the role of ‘Head of Content Marketing’ will suit me perfectly. Once goals are clear, I will be able to execute the plans with perfection because I will have less dependency.
# Whether my personal goals and company goals are aligned
I know my personal goals very well. I have to excel in digital marketing and always work location-independent.
It’s okay to sacrifice (postpone) my annual goals if I get a chance to work with a bunch of nice guys on a mission.
There was no doubt that my goals and startup goals were overlapping.
# Will it enhance my skill-set
I have skills like content writing, storytelling, e-mail marketing, SEO, ASO and social media marketing. I also have complementary experience of product development, team management and running two startups.
Since my personal goals are aligned with the company’s goal, I can see tremendous opportunities to learn new things and improve my existing skills.
# The compensation in terms of cash and equity
The least important but necessary part. I would have loved to work for free for such an opportunity but I have bills to pay. The startup is generous enough to pay me what I need every month and some portion of equity for my long-term association with the company.
You should talk about it in the end and close it as fast as possible. There could be chances of ruining relationships if compensation discussions are dragged on for a long time. Personally, I don’t prefer indulging in salary negotiations during startup hiring. You should be clear about what you need. If that is being offered then accept it, or move on.
#The exit point
The last you should be clear about are the exit gates. I joined the startup on basis of team and mission. I will leave the company if they start hiring bad people (for whatever reason) or deviates from its mission of improving healthcare. Else I would stay on, during the good times and the bad.