Should I join a startup?: 5 questions to ask yourself before joining a startup

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Joining a startup is a big move – there are many differences in the role and expectations between working for a startup and a more established firm. This article explores some of the key questions to ask yourself before committing to work for a startup. 

Does the startup lifestyle align with my lifestyle?

A first question before considering joining a particular startup is whether you want to work at a startup at all. There are many things that employees like about working at a startup, such as the possibility of achieving something new, but the lifestyle is not for everyone. Some people prefer the predictability of a large firm – where expectations and roles may be more clearly defined.

Do I believe in this firm?

Beyond considering whether you want to work at a startup, it is also important to consider whether you believe in this particular firm. Working in a startup environment requires commitment, and if you don’t genuinely believe that the company that you are working for is going to be a success, you are less likely to go all-out on the company. Look at the technology, look at the team, look at what they have currently achieved – if you are skeptical as to whether this group of individuals will ever pull it off, think carefully as to whether this is a company that you want to pin your success to. 

Does this firm have the financing in place?

A big part of whether the firm is likely to be successful is whether they have finances in place. It is also a pressing issue as to the likely security of your position. A such, it is worth specific attention as to how secure the position and company is likely to be – are they pressed for cash, and could potentially run into financing issues at any time, or are they either generating profit or already have secured financing.

While a lack of finance is not uncommon among early startup firms – and you may decide you want to be part of this early stage – it is important to at least be aware of the current position that the firm is in. 

Do I want to work with this team?

Beyond whether the company and opportunity seem viable, it is also important to consider whether you actually want to work with this team. Finding a company (or startup) to work for is about getting a good fit – on both sides. Consider whether these are people that you will want to spend hours every day working with. 

Is this the right role?

A final thing to consider is whether the role and scope of the position match your interests. Are the responsibilities that you will have things that you actually want to be involved in. A good match is likely to draw from your experiences – not only things that you are interested in working on but also areas where you have some valuable skills that you can bring to the role. Take a look at the position, and think whether of all the startup roles out there, whether this is one that you can envision yourself being successful at. 

Final thoughts: Investors evaluate hundreds of firms before investing

If you are ever approached to join a firm, it is easy to believe that this is your one big opportunity. It is important to take a critical look at the firm, position, and even whether you want to work for a startup. Investors may evaluate hundreds of possible firms before investing in one. While you are unlikely to be able to do quite so extensive evaluations, do think through your decision. Joining a startup is a long-term commitment – and as such, it is important that you carefully consider whether it is the right move for you. 

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