Dear Matt: I’ve been offered a job at a start-up company in the technology industry. I’ve heard working at a start-up is fun, but kind of crazy and unpredictable. What am I getting into?
Matt says: Life at a start-up can definitely be a little crazy. No two days may be the same and your job title will probably only explain a small part of your role within the company. But that’s why some people crave the start-up lifestyle. They want the challenge and want to make a difference being a part of the success of a business from the ground up.
“If you are coming from an organization that’s had standard policies and processes in place, a set corporate structure/hierarchy, and a team or support staff ready to handle/assist you with day-to-day activities, then working for a start-up is probably not for you,” says Alissa Henriksen, President of Grey Collaborative (greycollaborative.com), a Twin Cities-based talent search and executive recruiting firm that is the third start-up Henriksen has led in her professional career.
But if you are a jack of all trades, or enjoy wearing multiple hats and can adapt to an environment that will be consistently changing for the next one to three plus years, you’re in the right spot, says Henriksen. If you’re resourceful, can think on your feet and are willing to do more than just the job you are being offered, then a start-up is for you. If you want to be in an environment where opportunity is absolutely endless because of company growth, transition and change, and want to be in a position where you can personally contribute to decisions and these decisions can be made in the matter of minutes — go for it.
“If you’ve been able to deal with risk in a healthy way in the past, know that the future is unknown and that you truly get a thrill out of new daily challenges, then don’t think twice about making this fun and exciting leap,” says Henriksen.
There are and will be challenges. The pressure and long hours required to make a start-up successful can be daunting, says David Dourgarian, CEO of Eagan-based TempWorks Software (tempworks.com). The family-operated staffing software and payroll funding solutions company started the Funding It Forward initiative, a program that provides start-up companies the ability to flourish through funding and software support. Finding work-life balance can be difficult. If the company is doing well you may be asked to work extra hours to keep up with demand. When companies are doing poorly, employees often see their work hours slashed, making it difficult to rely on a consistent paycheck.
“Taking a job at a start-up can be scary,” says Dourgarian. “Working at a company in its infancy is fast-paced and unpredictable. But on the other hand being a part of a company as it grows and achieves success can be a very rewarding journey.”
Contact Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org.