Pros & Cons of Working For a Startup

I’ve worked for a few startups as a freelancer and independent contractor—some of them even full-time. I wanted to write this post, because a friend of mine and I were discussing #startuplife while out to lunch the other day and it got me thinking about the startups I’ve worked for. She was telling me about some of her experiences and they sounded very similar to mine, and as a freelance writer and entrepreneur I thought this information might be helpful to someone else who is considering a position within a startup company.

There are definitely risks to working with startups. But if the venture is successful, the risk is worth the reward. Unfortunately, I’ve never had the pleasure of working with a startup company that made it past the first round of fundraising, so I can’t speak from experience when I say that. But I can say that my hunch is pretty strong!

Either way, here are some of the cons I’ve experienced while being a part of startup culture:

Con #1: They might go under. In fact, I’d go ahead and prepare yourself for the worst, no matter how positive things look. One company I worked for made it sound like everything was peachy-keen, and then one day, out of the blue, I get a call from the CEO, and he’s telling me all about how our board members were having disagreements and they had to reduce my hours. Next thing I know, they let me go within 2 weeks after that phone call…

Many startups will spend too much cash too fast in an effort move things forward quickly. And if the person spending isn’t smart when it comes to investments, they might run out of money before the first year is over.

On the other hand, the opposite is quite possible as well… which brings me to my next point.

Con #2: They’re too frugal. Especially if they’ve had a scare from a previous spending spree. I’ve had department heads drastically reduce their budgets after coming close to bankruptcy in an effort to real things back in. And those reductions were often followed with layoffs. The first people to go are always the independent contractors, since they have no stake in the company and don’t require unemployment benefits.

Speaking of pay…

Con #3: Don’t expect to get your check on time. Especially if you’re a freelancer. Make sure you put those net-30 terms on your invoice or you may never get paid. Also, be prepared to lower your rates. Startup companies don’t have the same budgets as the big guys.

Now for the positives. (Yes, there are some awesome things about working for startups too!)

#1: The experience of wearing multiple hats. Startup companies are small, so if you’re looking to diverse your portfolio and gain a wealth of new experiences, there’s a good chance you’ll get to.

#2: The ability to work remotely. A lot of modern startup companies hire employees and independent contractors from all over the world. That means you get to work from home for a virtual company, which I think is pretty cool.

#3: The opportunity to help a new business win big! If your startup is successful, you can look back and say that you were a part of the team that helped make it that way. Can you imagine being one of the first people ever to work for Google? You could literally say you were a part of the crew that helped to revolutionize the world by creating the world’s most-used search engine today. I don’t know about you, but the prospect of that sounds amazing to me.

Have you ever been a part of #startuplife? Share your experiences in a comment below!

‘Til next time… Shae.