What Everybody Ought to Know About Working at a Startup


There are two types of people. Those who ask, “Should I work for a startup?” and those who never possess this thought. Working at a startup is not meant for everyone but no one can change the fact that it can be life-changing, demanding and yes – fun.

Startups hold passionate and driven individuals who’re working towards one goal: seeing their product or service make a difference in the world. This requires long-term dedication and hard work of each employee to see the fruits of their labour succeed as a company.

It’s a frightening thought that startups can be here today, but gone tomorrow. But if you’re looking for a fast evolving environment that involves personal growth and values initiative, working at a startup can be your ideal workplace.

Here’s what you need to know about working at a startup (including the downsides): 

1) You’re a Marketing Manager a Writer and a Event Executive Altogether

Sounds exaggerating? Not really. Those who worked or are working at a startup get the drift. The job responsibilities tied to your position are only the tip of the iceberg. Since teams are small to average, employees are to wear different number of hats and take on more duties than what they’re hired for. This could result in late working hours and working on weekends. Startups like to keep costs low. One employee might have to shoulder the responsibilities of 2-3 men.

This also means employees get first-hand experience to develop skills tied to many positions. The exposure of unprecedented insights and duties enable them to be more versatile and discover their interpersonal skills with different teams.

2) They’re All About Innovation and Speed

Working at a startup is all about maximising the company’s growth potential. A new company is up-to-date, fast and unique from its competitors. Most startups employees have innovation and creativity. They love to contribute and see their business ideas come to life. It’s the changing demands that trigger them to experience how a business works. Employees need to have strong initiative and urgency for the company to progress forward.

3) They’re Smart (You Wish You Were Friends With Them)

Startups are the life and blood of any entrepreneur or proprietor. Only the most innovative and inspired minds have the ability to excel in this demanding field. The same goes for startup employees. They’re really smart. Since startups involve bringing an idea come to life, employees need to be thinking on their feet and are filled with creativity every single minute. They must also have plenty of knowledge and the eagerness to learn.

4) They Love Technology So Much (They Can’t Live Without It)

Who wouldn’t? Technology have change the world in countless ways. It’s an information-oriented place and people rely on speed. One of the most incredible things is the ability for us to build networks and establish relationships with like-minded individuals.

There are massive startups that rely on technology or are all about going digital. Whether its providing business solutions, software, sales or more, employees working at a startup must have a strong command and expertise in modern tech. They’ve to be adaptable to new software and hardware, and are innovative when faced with new challenges.

5) It’s a Wonderful Learning Experience

Perhaps, there’s nothing more educating and fulfilling than working at a startup.

Employees work together as a team and an individual is able to make a huge difference to the company. This is the perfect opportunity for graduates and working adults who’re looking for more in-depth work that includes working with the C-suite. It’s a whole new experience that involves massive learning and commitment.  You could be the only person working on a single project, or are one of the few responsible with keeping an aspect of the business running. Few people are able to do things like that at work and it’s actually kind of a pretty big deal.

6) It’s Satisfaction You’ll Not Get Elsewhere (Seriously)

To startups, the meaning of ‘success’ differs from a corporation. When success happens at startups, it can be huge and sometimes too surreal to believe. Imagine this. Your startup managed to defeat its competitors and reached the top in its industry. This’s the biggest satisfaction employees and its founders will not get elsewhere. It’s a feeling of victory in unity celebrated by the team.

Are these everything I need to know about working at a startup? 

No. It isn’t a ride without any road bumps. There’s always another side to it – the downsides.

Think about the workload you’ll be handling. Often, you’ll feel like there aren’t enough hours in a day to get everything done (and don’t expect to). We’re aware that work is endless – especially in startups. With the smallest number of employees and resources necessary to run the business, you’ll be lucky just to have breathing space.

With the huge pile of workload, comes time management. Will you still enjoy the expectation of working overtime and on weekends? In startups, working overtime is common. In other words, you’ll need to be comfortable with such change and be prepared to sacrifice your play time. 

Startups consists of unexpected processes and procedures. Project plans, reporting structures and desk assignments changed more than you can expect. If you’re someone who loves standard structure and rules, this type of change can be hectic.

At startups, it’s common to find one employee doing the job of the entire department. This means there’s only one social media strategist in the entire startup. If you’re the only social media strategist, you may lack mentorship, especially if you’re new to the role. Or the person who’s supposed to guide you may be too busy working on their projects to show you how to do things. 

It’s your responsibility to assess the risk of the company. Startups can become shut-downs in a blink of an eye. It’s one of the inevitable risks when you decided to work for one.

If the startup fails, it’s impossible to explain to future employers what you did was useful and credible. To determine if you’re suitable to work at a startup, focus on how YOU can help the company, rather than how the company can help you. One thing for sure is you need to be driven, passionate and flexible enough to put the company first. 

Focus on how YOU can help the company, rather than how the company can help you. Click To Tweet

After all, people who work at startups rarely regret their decisions (I didn’t) and am most proud of it.

But the reality of startups still isn’t meant for everyone. Working at a startup will become a huge part of your life. Once you accept your job as a promising opportunity to learn and contribute to, you’ll see how it can be an excellent way to kick-start your career. 

You can also take a look at this article that talks about my experience as a PR Intern at a Singapore Startup

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