You are skilled, intellectual, and have patience. But, joining a startup, particularly in those days when it is struggling with an idea-to-early-traction, is the most delicate and critical career choice that you will make. I have something to share with you that will help you to discern.
A startup is a toughest and cleverest method for, bringing any innovation to its existence, and, converting an idea into a massive venture. The biggest differences between a startup and the normal business model are: the way of utilising resources and growth curves.
You may consider yourself as a father-mother of an infant baby if you are working at an idea-stage-startup. You will have no time for yourself — sleeping, eating, and even spending time with your family and friends. You may consider yourself either too cheap... or too special. My experience which I will share here later will help you to be exceptional. The point I want to bring into your attention is: "Startups Are Frugal".
Thus working at an idea-stage-startup is doing lots of work, under enormous psychological pressure — internal, and external. So, the only reason I can assume that would appeal you to work there is the "Vision".
Startup is not the place to stand with your resume (especially exaggerated). You may encounter, the very next day at your work, for shooting a target not only blindfolded..., but also after not sleeping for a long-long... and long.... long hours. There are no job descriptions, detailed SOP, or.... rules and policies. You will have no seniors and juniors, metaphorically, but you will have lots of ambiguity, uncertainty, and implicit communications between teams. Mistakes in your process and any negative result of even minute project-task can cost as a big churn. Hence, you will have to innovate, but not try — isn't that amazing.
The only way you can handle things well is by planning before taking action. Always consider making explicit communication that transfers, a complete picture of your idea and thought, without any confusion and candidness. There is a subtle difference between joking and kidding. Instead of using only verbal communication, to discuss work, prefer writing — chat, email, and project-walls. For vague matters needing team-brainstorm and collaboration use, clear documentation, and a crisp PowerPoint presentation (do not worry about making it glamorous). Providing a separate section (pages/forms) for noting the feedback would be a great option.
You have to be proactive and leader for the team in the domain you are an expert; leadership is the prime reason for your hiring. But, if you decide not to help your colleague to be dependent on you and nothing delegating to you: it would be wise.
Any entity is a collective identity for a group of people under a legal framework. You are dealing with real people. your character will immediately affect in any way to the person/s and then to the entity. Your ethics should relay on character instead of personality, originating from the core values of your living. You cannot be something from inside and else outside.
Between daily hustle — tasks and meetings, to confront your way of doing things, it would be vital for you to have courage.... Courage will not help you to make your mates convinced — they are already intellectual as you are — rather you will need it to stand.., speak.., and take responsibilities.
Having a strong characteristics ethics, and courage is a half-way. You may stand, but the question comes: For how long? There comes your stamina.., your strength... commitment; commitment not to the team, but to yourself — whatever happens, you will discover the way, and you will complete.
Working at an idea-stage-startup requires an immense character, courage, and commitment. These will be the days that will tear you apart. Still, you will have to take care of your surroundings.
“Win/Win is not a personality technique. It's a total paradigm of human interaction. It comes from a character of integrity, maturity, and the abundance mentality" (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey).
Why should you work at any startup, especially at this stage, when there is lots of trouble and the probability of a miscarriage? Why you should abandon, safe methods of earning, and a path to a more secure future? Especially, for pouring your cognitive and physical energy to a company which will give you some equity and less salary, and.., for a founder who is going to take credit for founding the company.
The first thing, before you get into any conclusion, you should check the 'equity' on its future value. You should also understand the ecosystem of the startup world which has lured the recognition of innovators. You may have heard the name "Guy Kawasaki". He was the person responsible for marketing Macintosh Computer in 1984 at Apple. He is not the founder of Apple, Steve Jobs is. But, we remember him for his contribution to Apple. His experience at Apple has turned him into a veteran for the Startup World.
Any startup is the only try that encompasses: innovation, people, and growth. Lacking any components will convert it into an unsuccessful.., or a normal business model. Thus, it is a platform for you to gain recognition and wealth. Another important value you may achieve while working at an idea-stage-startup is: personal development — discipline vs character. At some safe heaven, you may gain discipline and experience, but I am sure, hustling at a startup you will build a character for growth. You will not only learn to do things but..., also to do it in imperfect conditions. Ah! Don't worry about your age, you can take chances if you have a backup for a few months.
For any person, to grow, vision, environment, and support are the needs. At startup, especially at an idea-stage, you will have all these. Now it is you who have to work hard, bring things together, and make a better condition for society.
Here are a few things that you may practice at your work:
1. Share your resume (skills, and capabilities — in/out of your domain) with team members so they know when you can be resourceful.
2. Use a project management application, and communicate on its wall task-wise.
3. Do not exhaust yourself, take timely breaks, and do things that revive you.
4. Do not compete, not even for deadlines, rather than plan a realistic one. Ask for input from mentors.
5. Try doing some meditation before starting the day at your work place.
The startup is a business entity where you invest your talent and time to create wealth. So, by deciding to work there, you are preparing for a paradigm shift. It should be a prerequisite for you to understand the vision and capability ('y'— 'ies') of the founder, and other team members' compatibility, before accepting any offer. Finally, don't consider tangible assets of a startup for making a decision; startups can take birth and brought-up at garages.
“Seek wealth, not money or status. Wealth is having assets that earn while you sleep. Money is how we transfer time and wealth. Status is your place in the social hierarchy.” (https://twitter.com/naval/status/1002103497725173760 Naval Ravikant, Founder, & CEO of Anglelist)