Working at a Startup: Everything You Need to Know

Published May 24th, 2018 - 09:50 GMT
Startups almost never have the same day twice. (Shutterstock)
Startups almost never have the same day twice. (Shutterstock)

Working in startups is growing to be a very attractive option for many jobseekers. Startups have the eye catching job descriptions that include “room for career development” or “fun and casual work environment”. And let’s face it, who doesn’t want to be in a fun workplace?

During an interview for a startup, you will be faced with questions that are not always on the “common questions” list, or at least not the exact same ones asked in an interview for a big enterprise. Apart from joining the fun work environment, startups usually look for specific skills in a candidate before hiring, such as adaptability to work culture, humility, passion and the drive to put all the efforts to take this startup to better places. Startups tend to need unlimited innovation and creativity as well.

In some cases, startups skyrocket towards success in a short period of time. They quickly grow to become large enterprises. Innovation and creativity are essential to their success.

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Working at a startup has perks that vary from casual and relaxed environments to rapid on the job learning. But as we dig deep into it, there are some downsides to consider too. Before you get your foot in a startup company and assume this is your ideal job, make sure you familiarize yourself with everything you need to know in order to truly succeed.

1. Change is the only constant

Startups always have something new happening, things move rapidly and change is just a norm. They are all about being spontaneity and it is a great opportunity for those of you out there who are looking for a new career adventure and challenges on a daily basis. If you consider yourself as someone who prefers routine and defined schedules, then you’re likely to be unsatisfied when working in a startup.

Startups almost never have the same day twice. Some days you’ll have unplanned meeting where you will be exposed to new tools and information that changes everything you are currently doing. You will probably see a lot of new faces that come and go; new hires may start and leave in a short period of time. Startups usually try different paths to ensure they are reaching their objectives, thus, you may be faced with strategy changes and be forced to leave all the work you did in the past unused.

2. The work hours and the job

Working at a startup, you will probably need to go above and beyond what is written on that job description you agreed to. Getting out of your comfort zone is a must. Startups usually have smaller budgets allocated for human capital, or in some cases are not capable of finding the right fit with the budgeted salary. Challenges often face startups in terms of employment, thus, you will need to be the master in performing tasks outside the area of your expertise.

In a startup environment, you are expected to work very hard, and sometimes a 50-hour workweek becomes normal. Remember, the company is still striving to blossom, and you are all working towards that. It is challenging to some, but if you are willing to work extra hours to reach what everyone is working towards and try to create a good product that will stand out in the market then you are a good fit.

3. It’s all about teamwork

Startups usually have 30 employees or less. However, in the early stages of a startup it may begin with less than 10 employees. Most likely, you’ll find all of the employees sitting around the same table working on billions of tasks and splitting it equally. Teamwork is not avoidable and non-questionable in startups, rather it is perceived as a vital part of the company’s success. What one can achieve by one’s self, a team can achieve more efficiently with less time.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that all employees are learning constantly in a startup environment. They are all there to learn and strive to reach a goal; the same exact goal. Being in a startup, you are exposed to work in all fields, learning all those new sophisticated terms that has to do with technology and other fields, which may be unrelated to your area of expertise. Everyone is in the same boat, and the journey won’t be smooth, but being open to this work style can help you learn a lot about yourself and others around you.

4. Embrace the good

Working in a startup is not as difficult as some people may it sound. It includes a unique experience apart from the relaxed environment and the fun game rooms. Startups do bring encouraging work environments that boost innovation and creativity to grow the business. Also, remember the perks that keep employees happy. Money isn’t everything. Being comfortable in your workplace is also as valuable. Flexible working hours, ability working from home, intensive learning potential, higher room for growth and career development, and the casual atmosphere are just some of the perks that come with it.

Employees at a startup share in creating the company’s life cycle, and striving for its growth and success. This is what creates job satisfaction. Everyone is proud and celebrates their contribution and successes. There is no middle management in here, and everyone is often treated as equally responsible for all tasks, successes, and shortcomings.

Another great thing about startups is that they offer all the needed training that helps you become an entrepreneur. That said, working in a startup is not ideal for everybody. Some people perceive themselves are hard workers in smaller teams, while others enjoy doing repetitive and routine tasks in a large organization. That is perfectly fine! Your personality does affect your career choice, and if you truly want to know how, then watch this episode of our weekly Career Talk.

The truth about startups is that they are not suitable for everyone, they are not one size fits all work environment. Before starting, consider how you are going to lead to their success and whether it is the right place to start your career from. Remember, some startups do fail, but some of them achieve a skyrocket success and you become part of that! Take this into your favor, if it doesn’t succeed, you have gained a great experience and have learnt from others’ mistakes to become the best entrepreneur.

By Haneen Kawar

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