If the word “startup” conjures visions of ping-pong tables, beer-stocked refrigerators and flip-flop-clad employees, you’re not alone… and you’re often correct! But startups today have evolved past what spawned from Mark Zuckerberg’s dorm room or Steve Jobs’s garage into a wide range of work environments. The 2008 recession and a tough job market have encouraged many entrepreneurs to get creative in their ideas but disciplined in their methods. It’s important not to write off startups as you begin your job search. In today’s post we’ll delve into some of the many benefits to starting your career with one of these companies.
The benefits of starting your career at a startup company
You can make your own role
As we implied above, the definition of a “startup” is still up for grabs. However there are two consistent elements in the definitions that exist: size and age. Startups are generally younger companies with fewer employees, which can be the perfect environment to test your ambition.
Most businesses that are smaller in size ask employees to “wear many hats,” contributing to tasks and problems that might be outside of their specific job descriptions. Pair this with the ever-evolving nature of a startup as its founders bring focus to their product, and you have an opportunity to write your own starring role. Do you think the business could have a better social media presence? Do you see an opportunity to try out a new platform for internal communication? Is there a different way you can leverage certain tools to analyze data? Then speak up! This often requires extra work for no additional pay while you identify a problem and find a means to solve it, but this can pay off in spades if it causes you to receive a promotion or lead a team in turn. In other words, wear the hats!
You can learn from example
Perhaps one of the most unsung benefits of starting your career with a startup is the transparency into the business side of business. Many of the larger, more established companies expect their employees to find out about company news through quarterly filings, infrequent all-hands meetings or carefully edited emails. On the other side, many startup leaders are candid with their employees about partnership opportunities or potential mergers or acquisitions.
This phenomenon is partly because of the smaller number of people involved and partly due to more frequent dealings on a smaller scale than a nationwide corporation. So if you’ve ever wondered what goes into opening a second office or expanding a product to fit different industries, a startup can be a great place to learn firsthand. And since you’re an employee and not an owner, you can gain the knowledge from these experiences without assuming the risk.
You can use it as a jumping-off point
Some people start a 10-year plan for climbing the corporate ladder as soon as they graduate college, and there’s nothing wrong with that if it’s what you want. Others want to use their first job (or two) as an experiment to see what types of environments and roles they enjoy. For the most part, the nature of the startup forces founders to accept that, as the company or product evolves, so too will the interests and needs of their staff. If you’re seeking room for improvisation and the chance to hone your skills (the same skills desired by the bigger firms, I might add), there’s certainly a place for you in the startup world.