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12 Reasons not to Work at a Startup

Working at a startup is great, you can learn so much and growth-hack your professional skills and get an inside scoop on how to be an entrep...

Working at a startup is great, you can learn so much and growth-hack your professional skills and get an inside scoop on how to be an entrepreneur

But what's the other side of the experience? Let's take a humorous look at the sometimes stark reality.

1- Sleep Deprivation is Not a Badge of Honor
Get ready to look like a raccoon on some days, each hour counts, each task is more critical, since you may be the only person there who can accomplish it. Sleep is critical to human functioning as pointed out here.

2- Promises Don't Count
You will be sold a pitch about how great it is to work at a startup, this may or may not be true. Then you will hear your startup pitch 10,000 times, but what if it isn't true, or is only half-true? Can your conscience handle the stream of promises?

3- There Is a Lot of Churn
Finding the right people for a startup is tough and the startup culture is usually small so cultural misfit is higher. The result sometimes is saying goodbye to a lot of your friends on a regular basis.
12 Reasons not to Work at a Startup
4- Show me the Money
Your startup may not be able to pay you as well as a regular job, you may not even have benefits yet. I can't see startups paying you for that overtime, for those lunches skipped, for those breaks not taken. For the burnout that you may not be prepared for.

5- Get Ready to Take yourself very Seriously
Startups have this feeling like they are entrepreneurs, management may take itself very seriously. Strangely this does not always lead to the best vibe at the work place, when the going get tough they may forget to smile, joke, laugh, bond and destress in ways normal groups would.

6- Don't Try this at Home
Startups are not for kids, the most successful startups are actually led by seasoned entrepreneurs who have built up networks and social skills to be able to get funding, strategize product and market fit, etc...don't expect to be thrown together necessarily with a bunch of enthusiastic young people.

7- It's Chaos on Fast Forward
Things can change abruptly. Every week is another order of magnitude of startup experience with regards to the highs and the lows, like a roller-coaster. Your team may change, your product or go to market strategy might pivot, your funding could change at any moment. If you are not adaptable, quick to react, and don't enjoy the thrill of change and mad reversals of fortune, you might be stressed out by the 'normal' day to day of the startup life.

8- You are Part of a Game
Working at a startup you get an inside perspective on what it means to run a business. Keeping everyone happy, leadership maintaining control over whom they consider at-risk employees, the politics and hierarchy of the power structure can actually be magnified in a small team. Be prepared to be a pawn, even if you were once told you'd be a bishop.

9- Self-Supervision is not Leadership
Some of us join a startup because we believe it might lead to a more executive position or perhaps we are given a management role as a lure to get us to join. But the reality is, in many startups you will be a department of one. Statistically, the startup has more chance of failing than you do of being promoted. Rising in a group with a product that will probably not meet the grade is highly improbable.

10- Working Hours are a Fluid Concept
You may hear leadership talking on the phone about how they work 80 hour weeks, the co-founders have a lot on the line. But what is the peer pressure? Do they even take lunch breaks? What about other breaks, do they exist at your startup? They may eat in front of their computer, they may not be working smarter, but harder. Time is an old-school idea, and closing times for many startups really don't exist.

11- The Dangers of Being Greedy
Some entrepreneurs are lured to startups for the thrill of the risk. While others are seeking the thrill of profit. Your startup may offer you equity, but it means nothing unless the company becomes something. It's paper, promises and if the company grows, your share will get diluted, your slice is a nice small slice and of intangible value. We all secretly want a golden ticket but we should not be greedy or ignorant of the facts.

12- Hey You are going to Fail Really Fast
Did anyone teach you how amazing failure is. A startup will, it's the an awesome experience of trying different things, and seeing what works best. It's never too soon to A/B test and a good startup will allow you to fail, learn and experience this firsthand. Other startups might also not have an organization with actual failure tolerance, so on one hand you may want to take risks, while on the other are torn between the fear of failure and the need to get the job done.
Written By: Michael Spencer

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