My first adult job, while still doing my BSc. was at a small start up company. There were only a few of us when we started, less than 10 people. We all went out for lunch together, celebrated our birthdays together and worked hard, together. We knew the management in person and they knew us as well. It felt more than just another day job. We connected with one another on a higher level than just work.
I also learned a lot! As it was my first real job, I was soaking all the information from my colleagues and managers. I was willing to give 200% to make this startup successful because of the people.
But one day we were all called to the meeting room and we were told that unfortunately the startup will shut down soon. We ran out of money and the company has to close.
I didn’t work there for a long time but it is a job I’ll always remember.
Moving forward in my career the next job I took was also in a startup company which unfortunately also had to fire a lot of people, including myself, so I had to search for another job, again, and I was only 25 years old.
The next job I took was at a global company. A company that was well established with sales and revenues but also with innovation and lovely group of people to work with. I didn’t know the higher management in person. To be honest I didn’t hear many good things about them, so at that time, I preferred to say away from their sight 😊
I also learned a lot as it was a very organized company with many automated tools and software to make my daily job more efficient but had a lot of bureaucracy. To approve a minor change, it had to go through a series of approvals that could take a week or two till it was approved.
But I learned the proper way of developing a product. It is also a job I’ll always remember. Luckily I wasn’t fired from there but I’ve decided I want to move on to my next challenge and went on to work somewhere else. Later in my career I worked at other startups that luckily were purchased by big global companies.
I can fairly say I had the privilege to work in different startup and companies and understand the pros and cons for each one.
When I think about the pros and cons of accepting a job at a startup company, there are many things to consider.
Pros of working at a Startup company
More evident impact
Usually a startup, especially at its early stages, is a small place with fewer employees so you have more responsibilities and options to provide impact. Sometimes your job goes beyond your job requirements allowing you to provide your input on the company and on the product. In one of the startup companies I worked in, the product was named after my name and another engineers’ name. Isn’t that cool?
Flexible days and hours
When I just started as a student, I needed a place of work that would give me the opportunity to work after my studies and without any experience. A startup place is great for that! Startup often gives you more flexibility to work from home, during the weekend and after hours. It is not a very strict place of work in that sense. So if you need flexibility, a startup is a great place for that.
More opportunities to grow and advance
At a startup company you have more options to advance in your career because you have more options to show off your skills and capabilities. A startup will likely to give an opportunity for internal employee that they know and trust to move up the ladder.
A deeper sense of connection
If you are looking to work at a place that is more about the people, connections, a sense of a team work to one goal, a startup can provide you with this.
Sometimes you might have to settle on your salary because at a startup company they might not pay as much, but you can receive other great benefits like stock options, that one day can be worth a lot of money. It is a risk but a possible way to make good money if the startup succeeds.
Opportunity to learn and innovate
Most startup start at a research phase where you learn the market, the product, research the technology, write the patent. This allows to learn a lot about what you are working on and it will also be very innovative and creative. At a startup you learn as you go. As the company is growing.
Cons of working at a Startup company
Unsure job security
A startup is usually not very stable. Unfortunely, I got fired from two start up companies I worked it only because they ran out of money and they couldn’t find a new investment and had to close the business. There is a risk when working at a startup that your job may only last for a short while. If you are looking for a long term job, perhaps a startup is not the best place to go.
Long work hours
The resources at a startup are usually low, especially when it comes to employees. There are not enough people to do all the work. Also, there are strict deadlines and budget so often the jobs need to be done at a more stressed environment that requires to put more effort and dedication, which results in long work hours, weekends, holidays etc.
Most of the time I had to work at home, after hours to reach deadlines. I was asked to travel during holidays and weekends to meet customers and it impacted my work-life balance. It is not a regular 9 hours job.
All for one and one for all!
Since there are fewer employees, sometime the employee is required to do work beyond its job role. If you want to the launch the product, the startup will ask their workers to support and work in other departments in order to get the work done. While I was a project manager in one of the startups, I often also helped to build the prototypes and test them although it was beyond my scope of work. It does provide a sense of a mission and purpose which is great, but can also be time consuming and waste of time for your career if you are very career driven and want to learn only about your role.
To sum it up, there are great things about working at a startup and for me, I really enjoyed working there while I was younger. Later in life when I started a family and I was looking for a stable place of work with life-work balance, I preferred to work at larger companies.
During my work at startup companies I leaned a lot and I have provided great impact as an employee and as a leader and for that I’m grateful.
Read more about my work experience and projects I’ve done in my profile!
I’d love to hear if you have any comments or questions.
About the Author
Tally Hershko is a Partner and a Senior Medical Device Consultant at Go Forward Consulting with more than 20 years of experience in Startups and Global companies, with different roles of Product and Project Management, specifically in medical devices.
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