The benefits of working for a startup

Startups are a class of their own. This is true when it comes to many areas of operation, and especially true with regard to employment. Working for a startup is an entirely different experience than working at any other company.

Startups as employers

When it comes down to the cold hard facts, startups have a mixed reputation as workplaces. While they seem to offer highly innovative tasks in an unconventional, relaxed work environment where employees can go to work dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, some startups may also pay less and demand more work.

Another worrisome feature is job security. Since startups operate at a faster pace than an older, established corporations, changes are more frequent. Roles may be scrapped, redefined beyond recognition, or in a worst case scenario, the whole company could fail.

So what makes talented individuals turn down well-paying corporate jobs, despite the workload and the knowledge that startups have a 90% chance of failure within the first few years of operation?

Believe it or not, there are many benefits of working for a startup.

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A bigger impact

Most companies have a vision that explains their existence and motivates their actions. Apple’s committed “to bringing the best personal computing experience to students, educators, creative professionals and consumers around the world through its innovative hardware, software and Internet offerings.”

Amazon, on the other hand, says “Our vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.

And lastly, Facebook believes its “mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”

Ideally, any person working for any company shares the business’ vision and mission, and wants to contribute to its success. However, when working for a big company like Apple or Amazon, workers may feel like a very small cog in a gigantic machine. Their impact on the overall success of the company and the fulfillment of its vision can be perceived as relatively small.

With startups, it’s a completely different story. Startup employees get to be really close to the center of action. If a startup employee excels at their work, it’s a lot more visible both to the company, and to its environment (aka the world).

Therefore, people with a strong passion for making a real, palpable change may find working at a startup more fulfilling than laboring away at a large corporation.

Heavier and wider responsibilities

Startups are notoriously understaffed. With money tight, these businesses tend to have less resources to hire an army of workers, which means that employees have to cover a wider array of responsibilities.

A web developer may need to fulfill the role of a web designer as well. A marketing manager can be in charge of writing content, sending direct emails, optimizing social media posts, and much more. The learning curve is steep, and with rapidly occurring changes, you’ll find yourself challenged on a daily basis.

This means that both professionally and personally, you’ll be able to grow faster at a startup than at a big corporation. At the end of the day, you’ll have more skills to list on your resume, which is a definite benefit.

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Fast-track career

It’s true that startups have a higher turnover rate than big corporations. But in the hopes of a startup that perseveres, what happens to the employees that stay?

Well, if they work hard enough and they’re good at their jobs, they may get promoted. And even if that doesn’t mean that much in salary, it means a lot in title, responsibilities, and new skills.

Here’s a surprising benefit: evolving from intern to manager at a startup can happen a lot faster than at a big company. How come? The reason is simple: there are fewer levels to work your way up to.

If you work for a startup, your resume will be richer, your skillset wider, and your experiences broader and much more valuable.

Flexible environment

As a company grows and evolves, it creates its own structure, processes, and history. More often than not, big companies work with decades-old policies that are in effect because they’ve always been in effect.

Within these rigidly set frameworks, there’s often little room to innovate. Even if most employees would prefer a change, they’re too far removed from executives to engineer real, meaningful change.

This is not a problem for startups. In fact, working at a startup, you’ll have the ability to create fresh processes that’ll stay in effect for decades to come. Without a rigorous structure, startups provide their employees with a more flexible and exciting working environment.

Challenging times

While living in a fast-paced adventure movie may not be everyone’s dream scenario, many people thrive more under pressure.

Startups experience a lot of changes, especially in the first few years of their existence. This is simply due to minimal experience as businesses and established processes. Change touches everything, from business plans to targeted market segments, from team structures to job descriptions.

On the other hand, this visceral type of change rarely happens at a big company. The marketing department won’t cover PR or sales, and a content writer won’t turn into a community manager overnight.

All in all, if you prefer challenge over predictability, fast-paced changes over established routines, working for a startup may be your best choice.

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Conclusion

As you can see, there are various benefits of working for a startup. However, these benefits are not for everyone. For people who prefer stability, predictability, and the safety of regular, established routines, startups may not be the best working environment.

Ultimately, it all comes down to what you want and how you work. While job seekers rarely have the luxury to turn down job offers, consider if working for a startup would be your thing. If you prefer safety and predictability, keep looking. But if you’re up for the challenge of rapid changes, broad responsibilities, and work with a palpable impact, take the plunge into the startup lifestyle.

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