Life isn’t fair… and most grownups understand this (although I still encounter humans who feel like they are fundamentally owed something from the universe… and that baffles me).
What I love about the culture within a startup in contrast to working for a large, established business and/or enterprise company, is that issues of “fairness” are less prevalent within them.
Everyone on a startup team is in a fight for survival and the only way that anyone “wins” is that everyone makes it out alive (i.e. makes it to the next major milestone).
This camaraderie is visceral, tangible, and intoxicating at times (in good ways) and people spend more time trying to figure out how to help than trying to figure out how to lighten their own personal load(s).
Of course, this can create bad behavior if not checked and without good, healthy accountability, because some folks will work non-stop and burn themselves out before you even know it – so not everything in a startup is purely positive!
You also can’t hide in a startup because everyone knows what everyone else is doing (or not doing) and, consequently, hiring and firing happens quickly, as it should, as there is no time for folks who simply want to play the game.
Being fair in a startup doesn’t mean that you throw self-interest out the window… it’s that all of your team’s self-interests are uncannily aligned for a season of time. This vector-based approach is critical for the team’s survival.