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Startup Culture: Is It For You?

Startup Culture: Is It For You?
The startup grind: Is it for you?

When you hear the word “startup,” a flood of images probably comes to your mind. Things like cucumber-infused avocado water (no, that’s probably not a thing), in-office hot yoga classes, and beer fridges. Oh! The beer fridges! But while these things may sound awesome to you now, there are other considerations to address before, and if, you take the plunge into the startup-sphere.

Can you take the risk?

When you have student loans to repay and a desire not to live in your parents’ basement forever, you might reconsider joining a startup that may or may not be in business one year from now. According to CB Insights, a tech startup that crunches private company data — like funding rounds, competitors in a given industry, etc. — and then charges for access to that data, as many as 70 percent of upstart tech companies fail. Ouch.

Are you ready for the startup grind?

At a startup, the on-off switch can be hard to find. What I mean by this is that people are expected to be in office-mode most, if not all, of the time. It’s a startup, after all. Things are tense, and people are expected to pitch in to the full extent of their abilities. Startup people are not only expected to wear many hats, but they also are the types of people who  want to help out just because they can — they are usually go-getters and flexible-type people, generally speaking. If you’re the kind of person that hates the traditional daily grind though, a startup might be just the kind of eccentric lifestyle that you need. Provided that you don’t mind rolling up your sleeves and pulling your weight, that is.

How important is work flexibility to you?

How important is flexibility to you? The good thing about startups is that you might get such perks as remote-working opportunities, a casual dress code and adjusted work schedules when you need them. Just remember, with great perks comes long hours (most of the time, at least).

Can you handle the ‘startup lifestyle?’

On the one hand, startup culture pulls people together out of their mutual love of hard work, their shared vision, and probably a shared love of Mario Kart as well. But, contrastingly, startup culture can be highly stressful. And the stakes are high, too, usually. So, some people might crack under the pressure, while others will rise to these types of occasions. Which type are you? Not a loaded question! Plenty of people aren’t up for it, and that’s OK.

Can you take a paycut?

Are you in a place in your life where you can handle a pay cut in exchange for the opportunity of feeling more fulfilled? CB Insights noted that less than 1 percent of startups reach $1B+ unicorn status. Many of the other 99 percent are working with tight budgets and uncertainty, which sometimes translates to lower salaries than you’d find at the big corporations. But there are also startups that offer things like stock options and full healthcare benefits. It really does vary by company. And so, it’s up to you to do the research beforehand or to ask for that information during the interview process.

Takeaway: Think carefully

Startups can be fun. Those late nights at the office, commiserating over the insanely tasking workload, swigging a couple (or maybe a dozen) beers, and chatting about how much you hate Tinder is the stuff of a good life, after all. It is these moments that make life worth living (too philosophical?). But, on the other hand, this particular rose (startup) also has its thorns. That is to say, it is a hectic stressful lifestyle that many people just can’t handle. If you have a chance at a startup work-environment, consider whether you are a “startup guy or gal” carefully before you make your final decision to sign up.


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