Wednesday, March 6, 2013

What to Know When You Apply to Work for a Startup

Working with a new startup could mean that every day is "Casual Friday" but that shouldn't be your only motivating factor for employment. In many ways, getting in on the ground floor of a new business can be an exciting and incredibly beneficial learning experience. However, before you apply for work at a startup you'll need to be aware of certain factors which could influence your decision:

Flexibility is a must.

Have you heard of the proverbial "well-oiled machine"? That's a business which is functioning at peak efficiency. If there are snafus, they are quickly dealt with by management. With a start up you might not get any of that. Even simple things like office assignments could change from day to day. When all goes according to plan things should fall into a productive routine but it might take a few months to establish order. You just have to hunker down and go with the flow. If you're someone who is easily frustrated by office upheaval than a startup might not be the right fit for you.

You're a team player now.

Every successful company is built on collaboration between employees and management. That is especially true in the initial phase of a startup business. Although you might have been hired for a particular skill set, often you'll be called upon to pitch in at other areas throughout the company. Yes, this might mean running out for the lunch orders, answering phones or unpacking office supplies in those early weeks. Establishing yourself as a strong leader and team player in the early stages of a startup will help secure your position down the line. 

Don't get comfortable with the perks.

Part of the learning curve with a startup is in understanding the right way to spend the company's money. At first the bosses might be happy to provide free lunches or happy hour drinks all picked up on the company tab. However, as business settles in, upper management will start paying closer attention to that bottom line. As a result all those perks might fade away. Enjoy them while you can and remember that's not why you joined the company.

There will always be risk.

Even if you're working with an entrepreneur with a proven track record of success there is no guarantee that success will follow them into this new venture. You need to go into a startup aware of all the risks. For every success story there are literally dozens, if not hundreds, of startup failure stories. If you're okay with accepting that risk then go for it.

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