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Should You Work for a Startup? Pros and Cons of Joining

Do you want to work for a startup? We'll walk you through some of the most important factors to consider before making a life-changing decision.

9 min read

First, let’s answer one simple question.

If you’re looking to take your career in an exciting new direction and join the startup community, you may consider accepting a job offer from a startup company. But how do you know if it’s right for you?

While there are many pros to being part of the startup culture, it’s essential to consider all the potential disadvantages as well. We'll guide you through some of the most crucial things to think about before making the life-changing decision to join a young company.

Pros and Cons of Working for a Startup Company

Startup companies are on the rise in today’s economy, so there are plenty of opportunities to become part of an innovative team with challenging tasks, enormous potential and a prospect of fast promotion.

If you’re considering applying to work at a startup company, here are five reasons you should say yes to that offer!

Pros

1. Career Growth Opportunities

A corporate job rarely has challenges, when you'll need to make important decisions really fast. This means you won't be able to hone your problem-solving skills, which are an indispensable part of any professional career. In addition, startups can give you the opportunity to get your name out there. The work that small companies do often goes viral, and employees can benefit from having their ideas seen by millions.

Startups are constantly finding solutions to increase their revenue by enhancing their online presence and connecting with potential customers through various social media channels. With this goal in mind, entrepreneurial teams have no choice but to empower their employees with personal responsibility and autonomy, so that they can increase their creativity and maximize the chances of success.

So, if you’re looking to take your career to new heights, increase your job satisfaction, or learn new skills, joining a new company with challenging assignments is the best thing to do!

2. Workplace Flexibility

A startup culture thrives on informality and flexibility that set it apart from large corporations- things such as dress codes, or strict formalities are few and far between. This includes deadline extensions and vacation requests. Whereas at traditional business there would be various layers of bureaucracy between you and the executives, this simply isn't the case at startups. As long as it makes sense for the company, employees tend to get what they need without having to jump through many hoops.

To top it off, early stage startups have younger, dynamic management teams that encourage an open-door policy. These features can make working at a startup much more enjoyable than at an established company with rigid policies and old-fashioned ways of doing things.

3. Innovative Approach to Routine Tasks

Another benefit of working at startups is their innovative approach to tackling day-to-day challenges. Startup employees make the most out of their time and resources by using innovative approaches to routine tasks. One of the biggest lessons we can learn from startup culture is that there’s no reason for work routines to be so tedious. Who says data entry needs to be done in the office? When was the last time you saw someone use paper documents as opposed to cloud-based solutions?

Young businesses are constantly seeking for new ways to innovate, since creativity equals efficiency. The startup mentality keeps team members alert and up to date with the new trends, always coming up with fresh solutions and approaching routine tasks in an innovative and original way.

4. Your Opinion Matters

Startups, unlike well-established organizations with tight standards, promote originality and initiative. This means coming up with fresh ideas — whether they are for website design or giving away freebies or discount coupons—is highly valued here.

Absence of strict hierarchy and direct connection with the leaders make it practically impossible not to recognize a good work. When someone does something amazing and stands out from everyone else on a team, that's already so small, he/she will be noticed almost instantly by everyone in charge!

5. More Autonomy

Another wonderful advantage of working at a startup is that staff members operate with little monitoring. Because startups sometimes have very few employees, they are frequently given the freedom to take part in the decision - making process within their career fields and have the freedom to prioritize the tasks accordingly.

A startup isn’t just a company—it’s an idea, one that may have the potential to change the world in some way, shape, or form. But unfortunately, not all startups are successful, and the number of failed startups far outnumbers those that succeed.

If you’re considering applying for jobs at newly established companies, it’s important to understand why so many startups fail and how that could affect your own job prospects in the future.

Now that we have outlined the pros of working for a startup, let’s take a look at the most common disadvantages of this business model.

Cons

1. Lower Pay

Most startups don’t have deep enough pockets to offer competitive salaries to their employees. Also, young companies typically place an emphasis on equity, rather than cash. So, if you can withstand periods without pay and recognize that your company's potential growth is worth a lot more than your current salary, working for a startup may not seem like such a disadvantage.

But if you're aiming for making as much money as possible or paying bills without having to resort to a second job, then startup life might not be the best option for you.

Most startups grow considerably only after being funded by investors, so you may not receive any financial rewards until the company achieves some success.

2. Longer Working Hours

Working at a startup is exciting, fast-paced and innovative—but it’s not always easy, since every employee bears the responsibility of contributing to the company’s growth. While the work schedule is often flexible, many startups expect employees to work longer hours, including weekends and public holidays, which can be quite daunting if you have other responsibilities.

Forget about holidays for at least another year or two (if ever). In fact, there are no days off when you're building something from scratch. If you can make it through that first round, chances are good that the project will succeed, but those first few years won't be easy. However, it's tough to keep up momentum without some time off to recharge your batteries.

3. Lack of Stability

Startups are undergoing constant development and change. As a result, startup employees' roles, functions, and activities are constantly shifting, from embarking on a whole new endeavor to unexpectedly changing job responsibilities. This might be detrimental to individuals who want a more steady workplace environment and a clearly outlined career path.

Besides, startups are often less structured than established companies because the executives or founders are indistinguishable from their own staff. There is no clear hierarchy and leadership in a start-up company, making it easy for employees to feel uncertain about who they should speak to when they need help.

4. Unpredictable Schedule

Due to the obvious lack of stability and the necessity to transition between activities, you will need to work longer or irregular hours. In exchange for career growth potential and (theoretically) higher salaries, you have a very uncertain future. Furthermore, you may work 18 hours one day and 10 hours the next.

As a bootstrapped startup, resources are limited, and there aren't enough people (or funds) to go around. This implies that every employee must perform double duty— it's all hands on deck in startup land!

5. Fewer Social Benefits

The job satisfaction you derive from working at a startup company is often inversely proportional to its budget. Although it may sound enticing, but in fact, it means having less job security and fewer perks like gym memberships and free meals. You’ll also be required to take on more than your fair share of responsibilities as there will probably be little training budget allocated, so you have to rely solely on your previous skills and your personal development plan.

The Takeaway

To sum up, you need to make a great deal of sacrifice when you work for a startup. The biggest one is giving up personal time because startups require hard work, dedication and, let's be honest, a bit of luck. On top of that, you are likely to have rather unexpected working hours, so don't start any new hobbies that may prove tough to pursue later on.

Working for a startup requires multiple skills, so you will probably wear many hats while working on new projects. Simply put, if you like things predictable and don't like getting stressed out now and then, maybe working at a startup isn't right for you.

While your salary will be lower than it would be at a big company, you’ll enjoy various personal benefits, such as an opportunity to express your creativity, fewer routine tasks and formal procedures that get in your way.

In fact, a startup can feel like a family and since there are fewer people involved, it’s easy to get to know everyone on a deeper level. If you work with friends and colleagues that challenge your abilities, and make you look forward to coming to the office every day, chances are you're in a company worth staying with long term.

Lastly, working for a startup requires a passion for what you do. Startup company culture is centered on providing the best value for customers instead of focusing on immediate gratification. So, if you’re trying to get rich quick, find yourself a corner office and work at a large corporation. However, if you want meaningful work that aligns with your personal goals and aspirations, then look toward early stage startups.