The Pros and Cons of Working at a Startup

Popular culture has created the illusion that startups are all excitement and adventure. Game rooms, agile work environments, and trendy offices full of young go-getters who are ready to change the world. While some aspects of this are true, it glosses over some of the realities of startup culture: late nights, low pay, and job instability. Let’s clear the air and dive into what working at a startup is really like:

The Good

1. You’ll make a real difference:

If you’ve worked for a large corporation, you can often feel like just another cog in the corporate machine. At an established company, you may be just one of many employees that makes up the marketing department. Whereas at a start-up, YOU ARE the marketing department. You’ll see the impact of your decisions and actions firsthand and see how you directly influence the performance of the business.

2. You can’t buy better experience:

Startups are a sink or swim environment. There is no hiding or shirking away from responsibility. This may seem overwhelming to some. However, it’s also the best way to learn, develop and get real-world experience. There is no corporate training program in startups; you learn on the go, developing and crafting your skills with enthusiastic, creative entrepreneurs. No college degree can teach you what six months at a startup will.

3. Harness your creativity:

Try new things, get creative, fail fast, and repeat. Startups often need to grow and expand quickly, and they embrace creativity and innovation to help move them from A to B. With no corporate red tape and minimal bureaucracy to slow you down, startups provide a fantastic environment for individuals to show their brilliance and break new ground.
startup culture
working at a startup

The Bad & The Ugly

1. Low remuneration :

People don’t join startups for a great salary. Any money the business makes is put back into product development and operational expenses. A startups immediate agenda is to secure more funding and stay afloat, so, unfortunately, paying employees a life-changing salary is not a priority. And don’t expect a great benefits package to accompany your low salary either, that just isn’t going to happen.

2. Work/Life Balance (or lack thereof) :

There is no 9-5 when it comes to startups. Your hours will be long, and your weekends a thing of the past. To build a business from the ground up requires motivation, passion, and commitment, which can mean making sacrifices to your social life. Stress and burnout are harsh realities for many who choose the startup career path.

3. Instability:

If you have a mortgage and kids, the startup life may not be for you. The failure rate of U.S startups after five years is over 50%, and over 70% after 10 years. If you’re not a risk-taker you may want to stick to an established organization. You need the nerve to weather the inevitable instability that comes with working at a startup. If you lack the passion and commitment to push through the tough times, then startups may not be for you.

Final Thoughts:

The enjoyment and fulfillment one gets from working at a startup comes down to the individual’s personality. One person’s con may be another’s pro. My advice is to take what you see on TV and in the movies with a pinch of salt. While startups can foster an individual’s creativity and be highly rewarding, they will also spit you out throw you to the curb if you can’t handle the heat. Everyone is different, weigh up the good and the bad, and make a decision based on your personal situation and ambitions.