Last time I suggested that this may be a good time to think about leaving a large organization to go out on your own or join a startup. In this article I’ll share my observations about what that transition looks like.
Freedom. I have the freedom to make decisions and to move fast. All of us have the freedom to manage our workload in whatever way we want as long as we meet our commitments.
Low overhead. There’s no management bloat in a startup – or at least there shouldn’t be. You live on a razor’s edge (financially) when working for a startup so you really can’t afford deadweight.
No deadweight. You can’t have average or below average performers because you can’t afford them. This makes going to work fun. I’m working with smart, motivated people who operate as a team and cover for each other. We don’t have to deal with the guy who can’t get his work done on time.
Opportunity. I have the opportunity to work in all facets of the business, and in fact, I have to work in all facets. I work on sales, marketing, business development, staff development, application architecture, networking and security. I’ve done all of the above in the same day – many times! You don’t get this opportunity in big organizations.
Responsibility and focus. We have to hustle everyday. We can’t sit back and know that money is going to walk through the door. Some people might find this too stressful, but I like that it keeps us sharp. Our people know what makes money go into our bank account and they know how they help make that happen. I think that makes our product better too, and I know it makes our customer focus better.
You are building something. You’re building a company, product and lifestyle for yourself, future employees and customers. Do you feel that way where you work now? Are you proud of the product you deliver? Are you proud of the customer service you offer?
No long-term security. This is a fallacy anyway. There is no long-term security anymore, but lots of people think that it still exists.
Less structure. You have to build your structure as you’re building your business. That means you have to work at least 1.5 times as more as when you join an established organization. I found this to be both fun and a chore, but at least we got to make our own structure.
No safety net. Depending on the size of the startup, it might not qualify for COBRA or FMLA. This can be a problem for some people and is something you should check into if you need it. This will change when all the provisions of the ACA take effect.
Little or no benefits. Depending on the company, they might not invest in insurance or other benefits. We were able to get very good coverage for our company, so check into it if you want to move to or do your own startup.
Lower salary. You may have to take a lower salary than with your big company. I look at this as an investment, but you or your spouse may see this differently. Make sure your work environment, opportunities to grow, and stress levels merit taking a lower salary.
Is a Startup Right for You
I’ve shared my perspective on working for a startup with you, so what do you think; is it right for you? It’s right for me and if I have to get another job, I’m going to look at startups first. It matches my personality and sense of adventure.
Do you have any questions or do you have any advice for someone thinking of joining a startup? Please leave a comment or catch me on Twitter at @true62.