Should You Work for a Tech Start-up?

Justin Firth

26th August 2015


Ever wanted to become part of the start-up scene? The recent boom in technology funding has given London a rich start-up culture with entrepreneurs flocking to push the technological boundaries and create the next big thing.

If you currently work for a big corporate then the idea of joining a small start-up can be attractive. There is the opportunity to push the boundaries, innovate, work with a close knit team, and of course, potentially become super rich as a major player in a multi-zillion pound company changing the world.

But working in a start-up has its dangers too. For every start-up which succeeds, many more fail and while investors and owners reap the benefits of growth those without equity can be left unrewarded for their groundbreaking work.

So before you sell that suit and buy some skinny jeans to join the next big tech breakout, here are some questions to help you decide if working in a tech start-up is really for you.

What do you like most about work?

Sit and think for a moment. When are you the happiest at work? Is it working on a single project with a small team, or working across multiple projects with bigger teams? Do you like being involved in management meetings, or do you prefer sitting down and getting down to work? Do long hours not phase you, or do you prefer a clear 9 to 5?

Writing down a description of your ‘perfect’ job can provide a clear understanding of what makes you happy at work. Then ask yourself this simple question – will I get these things working in a start-up?

How much support and structure do I need?

One of the key differences between working for a start-up and established business is the level of support and structure. While the corporate world generally offers a tidy office, defined job role, clear KPIs, and well established management structure, start-ups tend to be more fluid with an ever evolving workplace.

Of course most people will say that they find management a burden, but the truth is that many of us find work frustrating if we don’t have clear areas of responsibility and lines of authority. Junior and entry-level staff especially may not reach their full potential without structured training and good mentoring.

Are you comfortable with insecurity?

If you join a burgeoning start-up then your success is tied to the business’ success. The nature of start-ups means that things can change in the blink of an eye. Financial pressures or a change in commercial focus can make your role quickly redundant and unlike a corporate where reputation matters, not all dismissals in the start-up world are handled sensitively or fairly.

Just as much of a threat, is that the start-up you join doesn’t succeed or fail at all. Instead it continues to trade for years in start-up phase never really making it and never having the money to properly invest or reward loyal staff. It is very possible to spend 3 or 4 years in a start-up and leave in exactly the same position you joined.

Where do you want your career to go?

When considering any career move it is helpful to think about the future. Where do you really want to be in 10 to 15 years? If the answer is that you want to be in stable employment managing a large team then time with a start-up could harm your career plans – especially if the start-up fails.

However, if your dream is to start your own business or work on interesting contracts, then working in any start-up culture is likely to be a vital and rich experience.

So what’s next?

Whether you’re determined to pursue the start-up life or want to find your next corporate venture, we can help you.

We work with a range of companies spanning the creative industry right through to banking, and work closely with you to find your perfect fit.

For more information or to take your career to the next level submit your CV below, or contact us directly on 020 7426 9835.

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