Many young professionals have asked themselves this question at the onset of their careers. The question becomes more important when the issue of industry, pay and location do not offer clear motivation. For me, I never had to ask myself the question because I always knew I wanted to work in a startup after school. Spending so many years in the university studying a course I had long lost interest in convinced me that only a startup would employ an inexperienced like me.
It has been a rewarding experience for me and this article is for all the young graduates out there, asking themselves, “Should I take a startup offer or take a corporate job?" You will find many helpful and interesting articles online that can help you answer that question. However, there are certain pros and cons to working in a start-up environment that you need to know before you make the decision. These are what I will discuss in this article; an inclusive view of the startup work culture from my personal experience.
1. You will become a Multi-Tasking Expert
This one of the first points people talk about when highlighting the benefits of working in startups. Startups typically have smaller teams with limited resources; hence, you will be required to wear different hats even if they employed you for a specified role. A startup is mostly “all hands on deck” every time, even for tasks beyond your job title. This would require you to develop and take up problem-solving methods and skills you may never get in a more established company. The good thing is that it often comes with added freedom to operate.
PROS: if you value flexibility and freedom like me, then you will love the thrill of multitasking.
CONS: Having to perform outside your expertise can be quite taxing. You might find yourself making a couple of mistakes (which is fine) and doubting your place or usefulness on the team, especially when you fail to deliver credible results when dealing in uncharted waters.
2. You Will ‘Shine Bright like a Diamond’ Internally (and Externally)
Unlike what is applicable in large companies where multiple people function in similar roles, startups often place one person in charge of tasks, units or department. This implies that your impact is directly evident and, since the focus of everyone on the team is on growing the company, there will be room for more teamwork spirit and encouragement. What you do will be seen and you will be credited for it.
PROS: It will be almost impossible for someone else to take credit for your works and ideas. (Yeah, it will not be easy for that mean colleague or manager to steal your thunder). You will also be able to enjoy the praise and approval for your achievement. Likewise, depending on the impact of your accomplishment, other people (companies) will get to notice you too.
CONS: On the other side, your bad work or failures will be obvious too. For example, if something goes wrong with the customers, everyone can easily point fingers at you. If cannot take responsibility for your failures, skedaddle! I am kidding; I mean a startup might not be for you.
3. You Will Work in a Fun and Chilled Environment
Think of a large multi-story building where the walls of the room have the same color as the ceiling and floors -the one with traditional rows of desks and drawers. Now, flip the switch, and think the opposite of what you just imagined. The work environments at Startups are often modish and cool with informal or semi-formal interaction.
PROS: You will enjoy the creative and innovative workspace. Most of them give you an opportunity to ditch formal attires for jeans and tees and relate informally with subordinates and superiors. In addition, the option for remote work is often open. If these are important to you, then a startup is the place for you.
CONS: This work environment might be uncomfortable for conventional workers who love the serenity and seriousness of traditional workspaces ooze.
4. You Will Have More Responsibilities
In a startup, you will be required to take up more responsibilities as the business grows. These responsibilities also come with opportunities to prove yourself and, probably, move up fast on the corporate ladder. You will have to make key decisions regarding the company in a way that is impossible in established organizations with their bureaucratic decision-making processes.
PROS: In this case, with more responsibilities comes power. Handling a lot of responsibility allows you to learn and grow at a fast pace which makes you more important to the team. You will get more connections; attend important meetings with important people. Overall, it also makes it easier for you to land senior roles elsewhere. Your roles and functions count to future job negotiations.
CONS: Do not expect a higher salary and/or benefits for all the extra work. Your colleagues in more established companies may think you are insane for doing so much for a little pay (until you land your next job). More responsibility means extra work hours. So get ready to roll up your sleeves and kiss Friday night-outs goodbye.
5. You Will Discover the Entrepreneur in You
Being in a startup team often grants you direct access to the leaders or founders of the company. This exposes you to invaluable first-class insight into how they run the business, their challenges, strengths, weaknesses, and more and may inspire you to start your own journey into the world of entrepreneurship.
PROS: Even if the entrepreneurship spirit does not rub off on you, or you discover that you are not willing to take that path, the things you learn will remain valuable for your professional development now and in the end.
CONS: Let us be honest, learning can be exhausting. Moreover, the founders of your company are most likely first-time leaders who are figuring out many things at the same time. Hence, be prepared to deal with instability, disorganized structure, irregular timelines, and dynamic methods that might not suit you.
Are you still unable to decide whether a startup is the right place for you? These questions may help you figure it out:
- Are you always eager to learn new things?
- Do you value passion over immediate compensation?
- Do you dislike the traditional corporate work culture?
- Do you being being part of team dreams and goals?
- Do you like to made decision and be in control of your tasks?
- Are you willing to embrace an elevated level of responsibilities per time?
- Do you love taking risks for future gain?
- Do you prefer to dress informally to work? (I had to add this question for the fun of it)
Remember that working in a startup can be risky. According to Review42, 90% percentage of startups fail. The failure rate for Nigerian start-ups, according to a Business Day report, is 61%. The implication of this is that your employment status can change at any time, or you might be underpaid for an extended time.
Nonetheless, working with a team who is passionate about "the next big thing" from scratch is beautiful. Make sure that you have cool bosses like mine, who frequently drop notes of encouragement even when I fall short and teach me not to restrict growth even when it is uncomfortable.
It is important to note the lessons you learn at a startup are of great worth that will yield a return throughout your career, or whenever you start your own company or move to new jobs. In the end, I believe that the decision to work for a startup or a corporate should be an intentional one.
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Pulse Contributors is an initiative to highlight diverse journalistic voices. Pulse Contributors do not represent the company Pulse and contribute on their own behalf.
About the author: Ifeoluwa MIBIOLA is a writer and user experience expert for a FinTech Startup. Mibiola is a graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) who loves to read, dance, sing and express her unique perspective on relevant life issues through writing.