Jan 11, 2010
Somewhere out there is a CS student or a recent graduate who read my “Why work for a startup?” post and vowed to make a career in software startups. Well my friend, I love your style but be warned: the startup life is not all fun and games. Here’s what you should brace yourself for:
Risk and uncertainty
The fact is that startups fail at a much higher rate than older companies. It’s a risk you choose to take and you have to be prepared for. Work for startups long enough and you are guaranteed to experience painful layoffs and cutbacks, if not a complete collapse of the company. Can’t handle it? Don’t work for a startup! But remember: while startups are more risky than other companies, the illusion of complete job security anywhere is just that — an illusion.
Unless you plan to take my advice through a time machine back to the year 1999, the startup you work for will have limited resources. Do not expect glorious office space (that is, if you’re out of the founder’s garage and actually have an office). You’re equally unlikely to find unlimited expensive equipment or first-class travel. In a well-funded early stage startup you will have the tools you need to succeed, but in a “no frills” kind of way. You can expect a somewhat more luxurious setting once revenue from sales starts trickling in.
There are not too many of us and we’re running on a tight schedule with limited funding, it’s going to get stressful at times. Expect bouts of long hours, night and weekend work (but don’t let that become your long-term standard, you’re no good to anyone if you’re burned out).
What sacrifices have you had to make for your startup? Leave a comment.