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Work for a startup?

What you need to think about before deciding to join a startup

Startup today is a celebrated word in India, more so in Bangalore, touted as the silicon valley of India. While there has been some caution in the market when it comes to investing in the market, there is always that one person, thinking and acting on that one idea which he/she believes will transform the world. As startups grow, they need people to grow, the founders need to expand their team and today there’s a war raging for top talent.

So how does this top talent feel about working in a start-up? How does one even decide whether they should leave their well-cushioned job and join a start-up? What value will they add to a start-up? What is it that would make them successful in a start-up? What if they fail? How would their life change if they join a start-up? What risks are they taking? Is it the right time to take that risk? How to zero-in on the right start-up? These are some of the what’s and how’s that give many a ‘potential employees’ sleepless nights.

Working in a start-up is an exhilarating experience, there’s freedom, within defined boundaries, to conjure up magic which will catapult the organisation to new heights. There’s scope to be inventive and innovate at a totally different level. There’s lots of high energy, flexibility, intellectual capital and passion all around to make it feel like a new life altogether. But then, there’s the uncertainty about the runway the start-up has. You worry day and night whether the ground-breaking idea you are working on implementing will give desired results, whether the market will change before you implement your strategy, what can be the next disruptive idea. Sometimes you feel like a one-man army taking on the competition! While these challenges do exist in a structured corporate environment, the magnitude is multi-fold in a start-up. One feels personally responsible for the success of the company. The devotion is higher, the involvement deeper. Sometimes this translates into blurry lines between professional and personal life. Working in a start-up is not everyone’s cup of tea, it’s for those who are willing to go the extra mile, to take that extra risk, to forego the safe confines of defined increments and guaranteed bonus. It’s for those willing to let themselves be consumed by passion for being a part of something new, something different, something life changing.

Again, all start-ups are different. Which is the right one for you? That’s a question that needs loads of research and think through before you take the plunge. Ask the hard questions to the company you are thinking of joining. And it’s in the ensuing discussion where you will discover the right answer. Encourage such conversations as an employer, because when a person joins an organisation with a clear understanding of the present and expectations from the future, the chances are much higher that he would stick around for longer. Having clarity on the value proposition of a start-up also helps him in overcoming any short-term bouts of doubts that are bound to arise in the fast-changing world that start-ups operate in.

If you are a ‘Top Talent’ reading this, I strongly encourage you to spend time with your prospective employer in helping you answer your questions. Likewise, if you are ‘the start-up to be in’ then take time to know your candidate, what drives him, what he needs to give his best to the company and grow together. In the end, start-ups are all about doing what one is passionate about and changing the world. Go find your glory!

I will love it if you take a minute to comment on this article. That´s the best encouragement to continue to write and share knowledge. Add in questions that will help you make the decision to join a start-up. Start-ups, add in thoughts that you want your candidates to think through before they take the plunge!


Madhurima is a startup enthusiast and enjoys advising and mentoring startups. She can be reached via LinkedIn.

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