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The Risks of NOT Working at a Startup

working at a startup

Working at a startup has risks that people are well aware of.

Half of all startups fail within their first 5 years, a horrifying statistic for those considering starting their own, or joining a budding young company. But as it turns out, taking that risk can pay off in a few ways. In fact, “it has never been so not risky to join a startup” said David Klein, founder and CEO of CommonBond in an interview.

Klein made the jump a little over 4 years ago when he left his job at McKinsey & Co. to pursue a life of entrepreneurship. “Whether you want to join another startup after that or go back to the corporate world, a lot of employers are highly valuing startup experience” he says. “And folks understand that not all startups survive.”

So if you have your finances straight and can afford being unemployed for a few months in the event of an emergency, consider the benefits of working at a startup and the skills you can gain from the experience. If you chose to jump back to the corporate world, it might not be as difficult as you would think.

3 Things You Pick Up from Working at a Startup

  1. You are an army of one. There is an initial shock that people often encounter when transitioning from a large organization to a small one. You no longer have 20+ direct reports. If you need help from developers, you need to queue up early. And you might not have the opportunity to bounce ideas off a large crowd of peers. You are in the trenches. “In a startup, you have to do a lot more with a lot less” says Klein. So in order to survive, you will need to gain patience and become very resourceful.

    You will quickly realize the need to develop new skills that might not be available in a small team. For example, if the company’s email designer is on vacation and you need an email built – you might just find yourself scouring the web for resources on how to build one yourself! Sure it might not be the prettiest looking email, but you still pick up a new skill.

  2. Multitasking. Be prepared to juggle many projects, with potentially many clients, with many different demands. Since you are an army of one, surrounded by many other armies of one, your colleagues will need help from time to time. Being able to jump into the fray and help out while keeping your own projects and timelines in order is something that will start to come naturally after several months.
  3. Building from the ground up. You may often find yourself helping out in the development of new product or services. Sometimes from scratch. Suddenly your are immersed in the complete lifecycle of developing a product, from conception, to development, to launch and beyond. Employers find this kind of experience extremely valuable.

About the Author

Greg Olsten is Ivy Exec's Sr. Content Manager, producing Online Classes, and Executive Intelligence articles.