So, you’re thinking about leaving your well-organized, large company for a new start-up opportunity or venture? Well, here are a few things you should expect from such a move in your career. While there are many benefits to a successful start-up, you should be well aware of how your life is about to change.
Let’s start with the basics, company organization. While many people are used to company business units we all know and love (Sales, Marketing, Technology, Content, Business Development, etc.), its pretty common for start-ups to “wing it” when it comes to business structure. It’s a common adjustment, mind you, since there isn’t a large employee pool to own each end of the business, each division with a strong leader and workers getting things done. You should expect to wear ‘different hats’ often, sometimes taking on different responsibilities ad-hoc, as priorities shift pretty quickly. Many people thrive in these types of environments, especially those who are willing to do something new everyday, and often take on roles that they are not qualified for. This often leads to a lot of start-up “in-fighting”, where employees all want to be experts at everything.
While business structure might seem pretty minor, there are lots of other intricacies that come with the start-up lifestyle. Process and security also come into play when working in these types of environments. Typically, every organization has institutionalized patterns of the way employees work together, everything from emails to meetings to files. Forget all of that when entering a start-up, as there are no pre-defined processes, which can be both beneficial as well as impactful in a negative way. While opportunity is there to define process if that is your thing, often people feel lost and bewildered when they don’t have somewhere to turn when problems arise. Remember, while your old company has a specific way to handle issues, you are on your own in a start-up to get the task completed any way you can, even if that means sacrificing security by sending information using any means necessary and using any tools available to complete the job. This could lead to audit failures, and future harm when sloppy start-up ways get exposed to clients (and they always do).
Personnel is another huge factor to consider, as it is pretty common for start-ups to have individuals with ‘big personalities’ and often ego problems. It’s a fairly common scenario to have power mongers in a start-up environment, as HR isn’t in place to set company standards and inform people the proper way to interact with each other. Having proper etiquette is something often overlooked in a workspace, and typically not something anyone cares about in a start-up. While there are advantages in this area too such as casual attire and no two-factor authentication, having to work with people with egos is often the ‘straw that breaks the camel’s back’.
While most of this seems negative, the positive outcome of a start-up can happen and be life changing. Get equity in your start-up, make an impact on process and be a part of something from the ground up. Take things by the reigns and run with it, that’s the best way to succeed for sure. These are all good reasons to try something new, because you never know who will become the next Google or Facebook. Ask yourself … Is it worth the risk?