14 Pros and Cons of Working at a Startup

A startup is always an exciting concept.  

It usually means that you are there from the word “go” when the company opens its doors and it somehow gives you bragging rights if the company reaches a certain level of success.

However, while there are many benefits associated with working with a new startup, there are also many disadvantages to working with a start-up company. 

As an employee, you have to weigh out the benefits and the disadvantages before taking the leap and investing your precious time. 

Pros of Being an Employee at a Start-Up Company

Of course, there are several benefits to working with the ‘new kid on the block’ and especially so in a tech-savvy, digital world.

Here are seven advantages of working with a new start-up company. 

1. Opportunities to Learn

With any new company, there are always a plethora of opportunities to learn new things.

However, when it comes to working for a start-up, things are quite different.

You are not walking into a company with pre-defined rules, regulations, standard operating procedures, and ways of doing things, you’re walking into a company that is like an empty canvas.

In a situation like this, you are expected, and depending on your position, required, to set up the framework for how things will be done and how this company will operate.

In this situation, you are learning more than just how to survive, you are learning the essence of what it takes to run a new company.

These are invaluable lessons that you can take with you on your life journey and apply when the situation calls for it. 

2. Flexible Hours

This is a double-edged sword and depends on where you are in your growth journey.

Many people make the mistake of believing that when you own a company you rarely, if ever, have to be present to run the company.

The fact of the matter is, that you may need to spend double, and sometimes, triple the amount of time on the job as the average employee. 

However, when you have your new business waxed, it may be a different story. 

As you are now more familiar with the required routines, you may find that with effective recruitment efforts, you may not have to be as present as you were when the business initially opened up. 

In addition, some companies may make it possible for employees to work from home if the traditional work setting does not suit their work requirements and desires. 

3. Unique Experience

As previously mentioned, this is an experience like no other.

The sense of accomplishment coupled with a sense of pride will give you something to reminisce about for the rest of your life.

Opening up a new business is not as easy as one might think.

There are few other work situations that may give you the same sense of accomplishment as opening your own business.

Regardless of whether it is you opening the business or you are simply one of the first employees, this is quite a unique experience.

You will be learning things you would otherwise never have learned.

4. More Job Satisfaction 

 When you start, work through, and finally complete a project, you may experience a sense of completion.

Something you may also experience when working for an employer, but never to the same extent.

Planning, starting, and completing a project may give you a sense of self-worth that few other things can give you.

If you are someone that enjoys fast results, then entering the business world may be the perfect thing for you. 

Business is known for its fast pace and quick results.

This industry may be the perfect fit for you if you rank high in a sense of accomplishment. 

5. Innovation

Start-ups are usually small.

Think of it this way: when you have ideas, there is a much higher chance that your ideas may be put into action in a start-up than in a big conglomerate.

Not only will your ideas be heard, but, there is a high likelihood that they will be implemented.

You may lead the team on new and innovative ways of doing things and problem-solving.

You have much more of a voice in a smaller company and chances are that you will be much more likely to identify opportunities for innovation in a smaller setting. 

6. Job Satisfaction

Job satisfaction stems from a sense of accomplishment. 

In a small company, like a start-up, your voice, and opinions, are much more likely to be heard and valued. 

From the implementation and success of your ideas, you may experience higher levels of job satisfaction as your ideas and advice have been taken seriously and may end up saving the company a lot in lost revenue. 

7. Little to No Supervision

In this setting, you may have little, if any, supervision when you work. 

But, it is not necessarily the lack of supervision that is the benefit, it is the fact that the owners trust you enough to work by yourself, that you go out of your way to make this company as successful as though it were your own. 

You feel less pressure, less stress, and less anxiety when working in this environment. 

You may have or experience more autonomy, which may give way to more innovative ideas. 

Cons of Being an Employee at a Start-Up Company

Just as there are many benefits associated with owning and working for a start-up, there are also many disadvantages.

1. Job security

One of the first things that employees mention is job security. 

Yes, many businesses have huge success, but many others, still, take a big risk when investing in a business.

It simply is not the same as working for a conglomerate. 

You simply do not know when the company will fold and how you will react. 

2. Lack of Structure

As new business owners, it now becomes your responsibility to create a structure where there was no previous structure.

It is easy to walk into an existing job with a lot of things that need to be done or fixed. 

3. No Pay or Little Pay

Many people believe that when you own a business you will be earning copious amounts of money.

While this may be true, several years into the business, it simply is not the experience of the majority of new business owners.

You may need to reach the break-even point before you will see any profits.

This is usually one year into owning the business. 

In addition, walking into a company that has little to no structure can be extremely frustrating, challenging, and intimidating. 

4. Change

There are few other industries that initiate, welcome, and encourage change, quite like the business industry.

If your highest need is for achievement, then the business industry is for you.

This may be a positive feature, but in the field of business, this may not be such a good thing.

When there is constant change and adaptation, as is the case when starting a new business, things can get quite challenging.

Especially when associates are required to remember information and the information is constantly changing. 

5. Heavy Workload

When working in a start-up, there rarely, if ever, is someone breathing down your neck.

So long as you are familiar with all of the rules and regulations, you know how to interpret them, and know-how to apply them, then you should be fine.

The problem comes when you realize that there is no one to hand the work over to.

It is up to you and your teammates to get the job done.

This often means that you may be doing the work of more than one person at a time.

Sadly, this is a situation that you cannot get away from. 

6. Long Hours

Forget about your clock.

Time does not exist.

You will be working until the job is done.

That is one of the major disadvantages of working for a new start-up.

You do not get to clock off at the normal time and forget about work. 

The ‘that is not my job’ approach simply does not work in this situation.

You stay until the job is done and every successful start-up will tell you the same.

7. Limited Resources

Many new businesses suffer from a lack of resources such as equipment, stock, staff, etc.

Proper planning and evaluation may mitigate the outcome of such a devastating situation.

Limited resources may have a dilapidating effect on your business.

It is curial to plan ahead in order to avoid such pitfalls. 

Furthermore, the sooner a new start-up employee can learn to make do with what is available, the sooner the company will be able to identify the road to success.

Pros and Cons of Working at a Startup – Summary Table

Pros of Being an Employee at a Start-Up CompanyCons of Being an Employee at a Start-Up Company
Opportunities to LearnJob security
Flexible HoursLack of Structure
Unique ExperienceNo Pay or Little Pay
More Job Satisfaction Change
InnovationHeavy Workload
Job SatisfactionLong Hours
Little to No SupervisionLimited Resources

Should You Become a Start-up Employee?

This is highly dependent on your work ethic and ability to make a success of something.

There are many benefits to working for a successful start-up, but the risk is enormous as well.

On the other hand, if the business is a success, then the disadvantages have been outweighed by the advantages.

If you do decide to pursue this road, give yourself a time limit to success.

For example, if you do not achieve success after the one-year anniversary of your business, it may be better to call it quits.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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