Startups jobs have a more lucrative perception in the society than they really are! Most startups have screwed up organization culture, poor performance management system and long working hours. On top of that, there is almost zero role clarity in some cases. This leaves a minuscule percentage of time for things you love. You can be building stuff, happy and have an impact while working for large companies as well.
Joining startup is always a bet. Risk are always high but so are the returns. But this doesn’t mean you have to be reckless. You should understand the trade-off.
Why people make mistakes while joining a startup?
A job is always a marriage between your aspiration and company’s vision even if it’s for a short term. With the downturn in the market, it has become more important to identify the right startup and beat the competition to snatch the dream offer! I have seen people making lots of mistakes while joining a startup and regretting that soon. Here, startups are not be blamed. HR policies are gradually built over time with learning and experience of the team.
Are you ready for the commitment?
You might enjoy startup but then you have to be an adrenaline junkie. What helps in startup job – a passion to build, eagerness to learn and sometimes money. Do you have that? Joining startup for the sake of it is no fun. In fact, this can be painful. Leaving a well-paying job with sorted career path was a source of a lot of concern and second thoughts for me. You need to sit down and spend some time to figure out what is best for you. I always refer back to former RBI Gov Raghuram Rajan quote for deliberation on this:
“Satisfying work requires three things – the complexity of work, the freedom, and correlation between effort and reward.”
What checklist to follow before joining job?
If you find yourself committed and you feel startup is the way forward, then it’s really important to find a perfect job role. Not asking questions, joining started-to-fail startups etc. are mistakes you should not make.
- Probe about product-market fit: We generally don’t ask questions at the time of interview but we definitely should. Ask for proof of product-market fit, it’s the only thing that matters for start-up. If you are a marketer, your role becomes easy after product-market fit, you just need to scale, there is no leaky bucket to fix. If there is no product-market fit, then you are taking a big risk and then you need a say in the company, hence a good stake. Now people will give you thumb rule, if your joining before Series- A take 1-3% stake, that’s all bull-shit. Determine stake based on your role and degree of separation from the product-market fit. It’s a misconception that asking questions can be counted against you. Asking questions show your seriousness and is generally appreciated.
- Ask for a role demo: Take a shadow role in the organization before joining. Get a hang of company’s culture and real job roles (fancy word used in job description makes it difficult to assess the role). Accept the job only if the role can keep you awake 7 days continuously. This also shows your sincerity towards career and job. Generally, founders will approve this as they also get to test you.
- Build solid understanding: This will help you get founders perspective and help you decide what’s good for you. Besides, they are also good talking points. Read some good books, to name a few – Traction, Lean Startup, Lean Analytics, Four Steps to Epiphany, Buzz Marketing etc. depending on the role you’re applying for.
These checklists will help you take the right decision. If I have missed anything, feel free to add in the comments.