(Photo courtesy of Officevibe)
Working at a startup can be magical.
It’s one of those things that you have to actually do to fully understand and appreciate. The rush that you get each and every day is so intense.
I’ve worked in both big, corporate environments and startups, and I think having seen both is great because you can take lessons learned (good or bad) at big companies, and apply them to smaller ones.
The thing about startups — young businesses developing a business model — is that they don’t really have a lot of money. Even if they’re funded, it’s not exactly what you think.
Usually, when a startup raises money it’s given to them in phases after they meet certain milestones. This makes working at a startup incredibly creative. Also, startups are literally just starting, so there’s a lot that they don’t have figured out yet. That also makes working at a startup a lot of fun — and challenging.
Startups also are expected to grow at an astronomical rate. Big companies are already big, so they don’t need to grow by a lot. Scaling a startup from 0 users to millions of users is something that’s hard to fully explain. Again, you need to experience it to actually understand.
Big companies already have an established brand, whereas startups don’t. Working at a startup, you need to be hungry, and you need to ready to hustle all the time. You have to do anything and everything to get the word out about your company.
There are many reasons why you should work for a startup, but here are my 5 favorite reasons.
1. You can make the company culture yours
Nobody gets company culture right like startups.
The bond that you create with the small team you’re working with, and the way that startups understand how important employee satisfaction is to retention is admirable. At a startup, because you’re there early on, you have a chance of helping to shape that culture, which is great, because you can really make it yours.
A lot of startup founders famously say that they want to create a culture where it’s like they’re working in their home. If I had to pick the biggest difference between big corporate companies and small startups, it’s that culture.
And while you can’t exactly measure the ROI of culture, it’s the most important thing to invest in because your early team is built on that small core of team members: you want them to stay. Obviously startup founders understand that.
2. You have the autonomy to lead
This is partly because of the good culture, and also partly because there are so few employees, but there is a huge sense of autonomy when working at a startup.
Generally, when you work at a startup, you have a very specific job description, and you handle that part of the business, so you really get to be in charge and have autonomy — and there are also new tasks that just need to be accomplished.
With most big companies, there is all kinds of red tape and silly processes that require approval. What ends up happening is nothing ever really gets done, certainly not by one person taking initiative and leading an effort like at small companies.
Startups generally have more flat organizational structure, which allows employees to move much quicker.
3. You will find passion you didn’t know you had
There is no one more passionate than a startup founder because what they’re leading is something they’ve started.
That passion is contagious, and when you’re around it, and you’re in it, you can’t help but get passionate about the startup you’re working at too. I can tell you from personal experience, I’ve never been more passionate then when I started working at a startup.
I’m assuming it has something to do with what I mentioned earlier, about big companies having so much “red tape” and not innovating fast enough.
4. Your ability to meet and learn from new people is unrivaled
The startup community — both globally, by industry and in any given city — is really like a tight-knit family. People going out of their way to help each other in the startup world.
There are so many great networking events and conferences for startups, and the people you have access to is nearly impossible to find in a bigger company. Everyone that works in a startup understands that struggle and passion, so when you meet another member of the startup community, there’s an instant connection that’s formed.
5. The opportunities are unusual and varied and life-lasting
Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, startups have the potential to grow to an insane level. Imagine working at Google while they were still a startup? Or imagine being at Instagram when they sold to Facebook. Even at a lesser scale, to watch a young company become more established opens up so many experiences to learn and challenge yourself.
These are the types of opportunities that are only possible working at a startup.
If you work at a startup, you can’t be in it for the money — big exits are rarer than you might realize. You have to be there because you love startup life, you want to meet and work with incredibly talented people, and you want to be a part of something huge.-30-
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