Beer pong tables, a stacked fridge, comfy couches and a jeans only policy: could it be heaven?
Actually, it's the environment that the majority of Generation-Y tech startups have designed for their employees. I know it sounds too good to be true, and arguably, it is. Not only do you get all of these lovely amenities and perks of the job, but you also get an experience that will change your life.
Startups are known for having the most creative workplaces, as that's what they want to instill in their culture: creativity. Not only that, but something has to make up for the long hours dedicated to getting the start-up off the ground and prospering. Don't think for a second that everything is total fun; you're also going to be challenged continually. They mean it when they say, "Work hard; play hard.”
Here are a few things to consider before applying at a startup.
Do you need a lot of support?
Are you good at multitasking under a lot of pressure? If so, then there's a possibility you can work for a startup. If the answer is no, please consider other options immediately. Startups typically only have between 10-100 employees. That being said, you can imagine the amount of weight people in their respective positions have to carry.
You will inevitably wear multiple hats, and there's a chance you won't get paid more for doing more. However, long-term benefits include fast track advancement within the company, which could pay off for all your hard work. I know account managers that get promoted to directors within a year and 25-year-old VPs that don't even manage anyone. Just be prepared to bust your ass. But often you'll find that it was well worth it.
Do you believe in the product?
More important than your cool coworkers or unlimited alcohol supply, you have to make sure you're working for a startup with a solid product and long-term vision. Whenever any market is hot, believe that there will be competition. Startups emerge and die every day. If your company doesn't have a competitive edge and strategic positioning, you could be at risk for layoffs and restructuring.
This is why it's so important to research these companies in detail. The bad part is you never really know what's really going to happen. The industry is constantly changing and even the safest of companies are still at risk. Yet, that's the beauty of it all.
How much do you need a work-life balance?
If you like the comfort of a 9 to 5, a startup is NOT for you. Working 12, 13 even 14-hour days are more typical. I know this sounds like slavery. Who would want to sign up for that? I'll tell you who - people that love their work. When you're working for the right company, sometimes it doesn't even feel like work anymore.
People are most productive in places that inspire innovation and creativity and the majority of startups recognize that. You may work some weekends, come in early, and sacrifice some happy hours with friends for happy hours with clients, but it's all for the greater good of your career and the company. If you're okay with this type of commitment and understand the opportunity costs, then you can be successful.
All in all, startup experience is invaluable and can change your life. If you're up for the challenge, just make sure you're prepared and have the drive to push through.