Guest blog by Jake Mellett who works for ClickMechanic:
As the Technology industry has grown, more and more graduates are drawn to early stage startups versus more traditional professions. But why? For many it’s the opportunity to be part of a company as it achieves rocket growth or the incredible staff benefits like year-long maternity/paternity leave and free food. But as with many new stories, these companies are the exception rather than the rule, so we’re here to help you understand a little more about what the reality of working for a small startup is like.
1. Myth: it’s glamorous
With benefits like unlimited holidays as well as work environments branded as campuses rather than offices, life at a startup may seem very glamorous. This may be true of more established tech companies or startups with cash to burn, but for most early stage businesses will be operating lean budget. This means in reality you’ll be working in a modest office with kettle and free instant coffee for the first years.
2. Myth: a great product will become an overnight success
One of the biggest myths about startups is that it’s all about the product. The idea prevails that you can realise your brilliant solution to a problem, put it out there in the world and the rest will look after itself. Creating a successful business takes hard work, but not just from engineering stand point. You need to make sure that the right people hear about your product and that it is easy to use.
3. Myth: you need to be a computer genius
Coders and engineers are crucial to any online company. They’re the ones who actually bring the idea to life. A sales team without a product to sell is ridiculous. But so is building a product that isn’t selling. Scaling a company will be dependent on a whole myriad of different factors and therefore needs lots of different skills.
4. Myth: work-life balance
Get ready to graft. If you’re working for an early stage company you’ll be a small team trying to realise an enormous vision in a fraction of the time that you should be. Prioritisation is key to ensure that you’re working on the right sort of things, but ultimately long hours are inevitable. One saving grace is that your hours may be a little more flexible – so if you’re a fan of lying in and working late this may be for you!
So why work for a start-up?
Working at a startup isn’t for everyone. You’ll work long hours, with plans and strategy changing daily. Everything will move very quickly and often it will feel like you’re struggling even to keep you head above the water. But in this lies the benefit.
You’ll learn a lot about a lot very quickly. Job titles are far less meaningful than they will be in many other companies, as staff are tasked with whatever needs doing rather than what they were hired for. One day you’ll be sifting through a massive database of data for opportunities, the next you’ll be doing a doing a photoshoot in the rain.
On top of learning a wide variety of different skills very quickly you’re also likely to be able to make a much bigger impact. Workers tend to have a larger impact at smaller companies, and this is especially true when the company is breaking completely new ground, rather than starting a business with a tried and tested formula. You’ll be asked to come up with, hone and execute a strategy rather than just execute one.
Working at a startup can be incredibly rewarding, but you’ll need to be prepared to work hard in order to realise your company vision. And I’ve never had to wear a suit!