Reasons to Join a Startup

Saw this via HN as reasons to join a startup:

There are only three solid reasons to join a startup:

1) You are passionate about the mission – nothing is more rewarding than engaging passionately in something you strongly believe in and endorse. Start ups have license to pursue ideas that established companies simply cannot.

2) It will improve your skill set – There is only so much you can learn at school or online, some skills have to be practiced to be learned. Start ups can give you a role you want, even if your resume isn’t a match. Which will get you over the chicken and egg problem of you don’t have experience in the job you want to do to be hired in the job you want to do. That can get you into a job elsewhere where the “entry level” position requires previous experience.

3) You will work with someone you respect – Start ups are small, visible, and stressful. Ask anyone to name 10 people they worked with a BigCo and 10 people they worked with at a startup, the latter is much easier. Stress, higher highs, lower lows, creates stronger bonds. Those friendships will follow you through out your life, they will help when you’re looking for advice or a job, and support when you are trying to pull off something really hard to do.

If you choose to join a startup for one of those three reasons it will always deliver.

These things resonate with me and I’ve already written extensively the benefits of working in a startup in a number of different blog posts (don’t be a Startup Groupie…). Accelerated learning (or Rate of Learning) should be at the top of most people’s list, and should stay there for a long, long time.

But after building a few companies myself and also working for a handful of startups, reason #3 has become an ever-increasing pull. To massage that point out a bit more, it is paramount that you work with people that you can trust, leaders that you can follow, and in an environment that’s healthy for you to grow personally and professionally.

But it’s the people (the leadership) that really create the starting block for everyone who joins, whether it’s employee #1 or #100. When founding a company this is obviously important but it’s equally important when joining one. I like this quote on the same thread:

Number 1 rule of working at a startup: really trust the founders and everyone you work with. Look out for yourself, but at the end of the day, if you are working with someone scummy, they can change the rules at basically any time. So work with people committed to transparency and honest dealing.

Also, while it is nice to think of your particular startup succeeding, it probably won’t. And even if it “does” it will likely not be worth >$1b.

One of my proudest moments was hearing from one of my early employees that even if the company tanked tomorrow that she would not regret it for a moment. I hope that for every person I work with, because while I cannot guarantee that the world won’t collapse or something unforeseen to happen, I can work really hard to make sure that as we grow and succeed, our culture is one of making sure that everyone is learning and growing and going to excel in their careers and lives no matter what happens to this company. Side note: I am also committed to making sure that people here are compensated well when we succeed, if for some reason our initial compensation structure, which I think has been generous, has holes.

As a company builder, there have been some very clear points in my career as a leader that I can point to that made me exceedingly proud and those moments are when my staff tell me that they love the company that they are a part of and that they’d do it all over again with me if the opportunity presented itself.

Is there anything more satisfying to a leader than knowing that someone would be willing to follow you again through the insanity that is building a company? Gives me goosebumps.