Resource Centre Job Search Advice Things To Consider Before Choosing A Career With Start-Ups

Things To Consider Before Choosing A Career With Start-Ups

All About Careers With Start-ups Working for a start-up can be a great eye-opener for beginners who still have a long career journey ahead and more responsibilities. However, it should be a journey that you make informed decisions about and one that you tread cautiously on. It can also be a truly beneficial career choice […]

Choosing a career with start-ups

All About Careers With Start-ups

Working for a start-up can be a great eye-opener for beginners who still have a long career journey ahead and more responsibilities. However, it should be a journey that you make informed decisions about and one that you tread cautiously on. It can also be a truly beneficial career choice for some, especially those who have a strong passion for the startup’s values, vision and products as well as a great choice for aspiring entrepreneurs. This article will prepare those who are interested in choosing a career path with start-ups to ensure that you make informed career decisions.

Working Hours

Choosing a career with start-ups

Most startups operate on a limited budget and minimal resources. As a result of this, they usually cannot afford to employ too many people, meaning, you need to be ready to put in a lot of work. Whereas you would work 8 hours a day in an established company, startup employees often have to work extra hours, sometimes 14 – 16 hour days. Your workload is never finished in a startup and you need to go the extra mile just to keep things afloat. Even if you go into it prepared, there is a chance you will end up becoming overworked and suffer from burn-out. The positive side of this is that you are likely to gain a lot of skills and invaluable experience in a short time. You often simultaneously work in a number of different roles, spanning over a wide range of departments. This kind of experience can rocket your career to the next level.
Minimal Remuneration

Choosing a career with start-ups

As we mentioned earlier, due to limited resources and budgets, the remuneration is usually at a low scale compared to established organisations. Therefore, employees should expect low salaries that gradually build up as the startup becomes profitable. So, if you are not getting compensated in some other way either through bonuses or entitlements, you might want to choose a more established company to sustain your lifestyle. On the flipside, when the set strategies work and the return on investment goes up, the compensation is likely to go up as well. This depends on the way you feel about risk and whether it would suit your lifestyle.

Unpredictable Environment

Working environment

While big companies have set policies and procedures in place to guide processes, startups create these policies as they go by. With limited resources and deadlines to beat, unexpected expenses can upset normal processes in a startup and result in confusion and panic. Some of the individuals in charge of projects may lack in business-related experience as they are usually first-time entrants with new inventions and innovations. This may require you to be ready for a constant change in strategies, work environment, and workload. Flexibility and resilience is key in such situations.

Unconventional Management Models

Management style

Your idea of a manager may be totally crashed when you join a startup. Most startups usually have rather casual management styles. They focus on productivity and excellence in innovation rather than your usual 8-5 hour day jobs which have strict codes on matters like reporting time, dressing etc. You must be disciplined to perform under such an environment, especially when switching from a traditional company.

Short Lived


There is no guarantee at all that all startups will succeed, irrespective of all the bright innovations behind their launching. In fact, according to the latest numbers, even in a country like the United States, 9 out of 10 startups fail within the first year or even the first few months. The reasons are simply too numerous to list. This means you should be ready for any eventuality. It also points to the importance of conducting extensive research of a particular company and the industry at large before joining. You should also be ready to lose your job at any point, this is simply the risk you have to take.

Roles Are Blurred

Blurred lines

Let us say you were hired as the accountant but one day, a client needs to have some orders delivered. Well, you just might find yourself doing the delivery. While you do have a job description and a title, it is easy to find yourself performing duties that are beyond your scope of work. Startups are often cash and labour-strapped. As such, those who are working in the company will often find themselves taking on many duties because things must keep going. You will need to dive right in and get things done.  Startups lack a clear division of labour and as a result, you need to be highly flexible and driven and be willing to get the job done regardless of the situation.

Training is On The Job

Job training

Big companies have structured training programs that run for a couple of days every so often. These are meant to bring everyone up to speed with emerging trends. However, most startups are tight on cash and cannot afford to organise for elaborate training periods for their employees. On the other hand, the owner is also likely to be learning on the job. It is, therefore, everyone’s role to be proactively involved in private, continuous learning so as to improve their skills and use them to improve their work. When working for startups, you are also encouraged to also share new knowledge with your colleagues. You must learn and adapt quickly to change within the company as startups are constantly adapting to the market as a means to stay afloat.

You Will Be Constantly Solving Problems

Problem solving

In a startup, problems arise all the time because this is a company that is still trying to find its place and find sustainable ways of operation. There is a lot of learning, testing and execution involved. As such, you are constantly thinking on your feet and work is not routine. You will be required to always come up with new and improved ways of working and dropping what does not work.

If you want to work in a startup, you must be creative and be an active participant in the business in order to survive the turbulence.

Your Achievements And Failures Will Be Noticed

Failures and achievements

When working in a startup, you are part of a very small team and your actions have a direct impact on the business. This then means that whatever you do is very visible and as such, success or failure is directly attributed to you. Unlike big corporations where you can feel as part of a cog or system and your work could be routine, in a startup, you are an active member of a team and your actions are varied and impactful.

The immediate feedback attributed to your actions is a big motivating factor as you are able to gauge how your actions affect the business, and change when necessary.

Growth Prospects

Career growth

On one hand, a promising startup is bound to grow rapidly and this comes with rapid advancement in career. You can join at a junior level and based on your work, you could find yourself at a senior level within a short period of time. On the other hand, if the company stagnates, your career stagnates as well. If the company goes down, your career also goes down. This, therefore, means that working in startups is for the risk takers. If you like predictability, startups are not for you.

Choosing a career with a startup can be very rewarding especially for people who are driven and like to work in a fast-paced and highly innovative environment. However, the pay is likely to be little, the workload heavy and the time, squeezed. The benefit is that when the business does well, you get to benefit, you learn a lot along the way and become highly skilled.


Mueke Katwa
Notification Bell