Should You Join a Startup? How To Evaluate a Startup

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Joining a small startup can be risky, but startups can be appealing to job seekers as they offer large growth potential and possibilities. Should you join a startup – or look for a more established and stable company?

The answer to these questions will depend on your personal preferences. This article discusses some of the pros and cons of joining a startup to help you decide if startups are right for you.

Research the Startup 

The first thing you should do when considering joining a company is to research it. Even young startups might have enough information on the company, its people and its products and services for you to make an informed decision on whether or not you want to be a part of that company.

Do a search for reviews of the company’s products and see what people have to say about them.

Are the reviews mostly positive? Is the product unique in some way? Are people likely to become repeat customers and refer others to it?

A strong product that is well-marketed is always a good sign.

Also be sure to look at reviews from employees who worked at the company. Pay attention to what people say about management and the work culture.

Sites like Glassdoor, where employees can review other businesses, can give you good insight as to the positives and negatives about working for a company.

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Startups vs. Established Businesses

Every business is different, but startups tend to have certain characteristics that you should be aware of before you join.

Smaller companies tend to have less structure and can be less process-driven. Whether the lack of structure is good or bad is a matter of personal preference.

Are you the type of person that wants to shape a company’s structure and culture? Do you want to have the authority to create the processes and dictate how a company runs?

Then working at a startup might make sense from that perspective.

However, if you prefer structure and knowing exactly what to do next, then you might struggle at a startup.

Working at a startup might also require you to work longer hours and take on more responsibilities. Are you willing to make sacrifices and work hard to see the business succeed? Or do you prefer having a better work-life balance?

Take a deep look into your motivations. Are you looking for the opportunity to launch something big?

Or do you prefer the stability of an established company?

Get to Know the Internal Team

Startups usually involve working with a small group of people. Before taking a job with a startup, you want to be sure that it is a good cultural fit and that your personality is compatible with other people with whom you will be working.

Prepare and ask questions during the interview.

Find out if management is open and accessible. Most people who join a startup will want to be able to influence management decisions and know what’s going on with the business.

Learn more about their work culture and evaluate whether or not it is compatible with your work style. Will people be expected to work hard and put in long hours? Or does management encourage a more relaxed atmosphere?

Most likely, you will be working closely with some team members in the company. It’s important to get to know who those people are and to make sure you’ll be able to work well together.

Look at The Financials – is The Startup Profitable?

Another important consideration when joining a startup is the financials. Is the company already profitable? And if not, do they have enough funding to pay you consistently and in a timely manner?

Think about joining a startup in the same way an investor would evaluate risk before investing in a business.

If the company is funded, how much funding are they getting? And how will they continue to receive funding?

Also, how fast is the company growing and what are their sales and marketing plans to bring on new customers? How long will it take for the company to become profitable?

Don’t be afraid to ask about funding and finances during your interview. It may even set you apart.

Another thing you may want to consider is your own personal finances and savings. Do you have enough money saved up to mitigate the risk of working at a startup? If the startup unexpectedly goes under, do you have financial security?

While working for a startup might seem risky, it can also have higher financial rewards for the right people. You could cash in on the next big thing or you could end up working for a company that ceases to exist. You will have to weigh the risk and potential rewards of working for the company before you sign on.

Weigh all Your Alternatives

Finally, be sure to weigh your alternatives. Apply to different jobs at companies of different sizes and learn as much as you can about each company.

Ask yourself what you can contribute to each company as well.

After interacting with people from different companies, learning about their culture and analyzing the financial risks and rewards, you may find that another company that you weren’t originally excited about is where you want to work.

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