You should work at a startup. It’s a great experience. Lots of upside. Lots of emotion. Lots of learning. It’s not easy, but it’s definitely worthwhile.
Many people’s reaction to that statement is this: “Startups are too risky. You never know if they’ll be around for long…”
Webomatica echoed that exact sentiment on my post about the stress of startups: “…you have to give the job your all but always know in the back of your mind that your job could vanish at any moment.”
Perhaps, but how is that different than so many other companies? Pick up any newspaper, on any day of the week, flip to the business section, and you can find at least one story about layoffs at some large corporation. Just today I read about 4,000 Motorola employees being cut. Think they feel safe?
Absolute job security is the real myth. And the size of the company you work for isn’t indicative of your job security either. It might feel like your job is safer in a bigger company because you can hide…but thousands of people lose their jobs regularly, and most of them aren’t at startups.
Evan Prodromou (speaking about startups) said:
“Itâ€™s a heartache and a struggle more often than it is a triumph. Whether that struggle is worth it depends on a lot of factors â€” not all of them in the control of the employee. If youâ€™re working for the right people, and they have the right idea, and you feel the same passion for the idea that they do, and the market does, too, then it can be great. But thatâ€™s a lot of ifâ€™s.”
I’m not picking on Evan, he’s a great guy. He even bought me a gift for my son’s birth (which was a completely unexpected and wonderful surprise.) But he’s down on startups. And he’s not alone.
My answer is simple: At least you have a chance to work for the right people, on the right idea, and feel the same passion for the idea that the founders do.
Or as someone much more famous than me once said, “It’s better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all…”
There is risk with startups. You have to put yourself out there, be more exposed, offer more. Startups are small, so everyone stands out just a little bit more. There are very few places to hide. That’s risky.
But when we look at risk from the perspective of losing your job, being treated poorly, frustration, etc. — all of the negative things so many people lump onto startups — I don’t see much difference between them and every other company out there. And the upside of startups remains…