The Pros and Cons of Working at a Startup

By Tessa van Breeden - Are you a recent college graduate or someone who is seeking a new challenge? You may find yourself browsing LinkedIn and applying for jobs at established companies. But have you ever considered working at a startup? Despite its size and uncertainties, joining a startup can also mean making a significant impact. What are the pros and cons of working at a startup?

Leonne Dieleman is a talent propositions manager for the HR services of YES!Delft and helps startups at YES!Delft to find, employ, and keep talent. She explains the pros and cons of working at a startup. This article will help you decide if working at a startup is something for you.

Pros of working at a startup

There are many good reasons to work for a startup. For instance, you get a lot of responsibility and freedom to make a truly impactful contribution to the startup and solve the problem the startup is tackling.Leonne Dieleman, YES!Delft Talent Manager

  • Making an impact on the world

Whether it is cleaning the ocean, making healthcare more efficient, or finding solutions for sustainable AI, creating impact is very important for most startups. Working at a startup means a chance to contribute to the greater good. As a startup employee, you are likely to have a sense of purpose, which is one factor that contributes to overall general happiness and a good reason to choose a job. Despite common belief, many startups offer competitive salaries, so you can help create an impact while earning your keep.

  • The ability to build something from scratch

Most startups have a great vision – but are still starting up. That means they are building their innovation and their company from scratch. It means there is a need for creativity, responsibility, and the freedom to leave your mark on the company’s foundation. Especially if you are a first or second hire, you play a big part in growing the startup.

  • A chance to accelerate your personal growth and career

So, with a lot of freedom and responsibility while still having a foundation to build, there are many opportunities for personal growth and career growth within startups. Though you will sometimes walk different paths than incorporates, where growth is often supported by established paths, your skills will improve quickly because of the high pace within a startup environment. You will learn on the go, fail fast, and recover even quicker. There is a huge opportunity to get promoted more quickly than following the beaten path at a larger company.

Cons of working at a startup

Are you convinced yet of the dynamic environment where it is up to you to prove yourself and help create an impact? Yes! But working for a startup is not for everyone. Though we don’t like to call it a con, you might want to consider the following points.

  • Work hard, play hard.

A big misconception is that most people think it is easy working for a startup because they are often quite flexible. While most startups offer you the flexibility to work anywhere, take many breaks, and organize fun teambuilding activities, you will be expected to work hard.

The startup is creating impact, results, and growth, and for that, you need to put in the hours. It is definitely a work hard, play hard environment.Leonne Dieleman, YES!Delft Talent Manager

  • High-paced environment

“A high-paced environment brings stress,” explains Leonne. “Many things happen simultaneously.” The foundation of a company is built next to managing proof of concept projects, pilots, research, and product development, all done with limited capacity. The goal is often to work quickly to generate customer revenue. Add to this the uncertainties of a limited budget. Whether the product will be a good market fit in time and stress levels may rise above what you are used to.

  • Flexibility

Not one day in a startup is the same. The startup might be required to change course overnight and pivot when new information comes in. Because of the fast pace, many quick decisions will be made. There will be a fair share of putting out fires, all while staying optimistic and solution-oriented. It will require a lot of independence and flexibility to show up every day.

To work in a startup, you must have some entrepreneurial competencies. The workplace is dynamic, and no working day is the same. You have to be entrepreneurial, open-minded, solution-oriented, flexible, self-starting, involved, and stress-resistant.Leonne Dieleman, YES!Delft Talent Manager

Opportunities for talents

If you have come this far while reading, you are probably excited to work at a startup. But where to find the right opportunities?

Do not hesitate to contact a startup if you want to work for them, even if there is no vacancy online. Approach them via LinkedIn, email, or call them. Especially in early-stage startups, founders appreciate pro-activity, and it is always nice to hear that someone wants to work for your company.

Leonne Dieleman, YES!Delft Talent Manager

Looking for a job at a startup? Check out the startup job board.

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