Just out of college, a degree in hand, and you’ve decided to join a startup. Your peers have landed jobs with MNCs and well-known companies. Your friends and family question your choice, leaving you confused and unsure. You doubt your decision about joining a startup.

But should you?

Starting your career

The initial formative years of your career are important and exciting. Most individuals know ‘what’ they want to do and become a few years down the line, but do not know ‘how’ they should reach there.

The first four or five years is a time filled with discovery – of one’s professional self, of taking risks, and even making mistakes. With the plethora of options available in the market, freshers are often torn between deciding about joining startups or take the corporate route.

A 10-year study called, the CEO Genome Project, took a closer look at CEOs who reached the role faster than the average of 24 years from their first job. The revelations are fascinating insights. The study found three kinds of career accelerators.

More than 60% of the CEOs took a smaller role or moved to a smaller company to take on greater responsibilities and took opportunities to build something ground up and made a big impact.

Takeaway: smaller companies and startups have helped CEOs build skillsets and got their achievements noticed.

Here are a few of the things that helped:

1) Taking a big leap

More than one-third of them took a big leap by taking on big roles, even when the roles were outside of their expertise. Big breaks don’t just land on one’s lap. Quite often people have to chase them. Some ways to get big challenging roles are to join a startup, ask your bosses for challenging opportunities and be willing to tackle complex problems.

2) Jumping into a big mess

More than 30% of these CEOs deliberately took on challenges and lead their teams out through the mess. These situations help individuals show their leadership and performance capabilities.

 

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Join a startup, learn on the job

1) More responsibilities, more learning

Most startups have small teams, which means more responsibilities are entrusted to each team member. One can learn more than just one skill. It is also a good opportunity for anyone just out of school to explore his/her strong points, to carve a niche in specific skillsets and to find out where one’s strengths lay.

2) More opportunities

Startups are made of small teams. Each team member has several roles. There are no roles that are fixed to the tee. Working at startups provides the flexibility to seize opportunities and take on challenging jobs to prove oneself.

3) Learning from innovators

Entrepreneurs are those people who see a problem and come up with an innovative and original solution to tackle the same. Startup founders have a different approach to work compared to those who have never started their own companies. And definitely, there’s a lot to learn from founders while you work with one.

 

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Join a startup, develop these key skills

1) Decision-making

Decision-making could come naturally to some people but for others, it may be a hard row to hoe. Startups need to be flexible, fast and agile to the changes in the market and need to align themselves with opportunities.

All these are based on the competency of taking decisions. As a startup is made up of small teams, each and every person is an expert in his or her field and expected to take decisions – at times collective, and at other times, individually.

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2) Dealing with failure

Did you know, Bill Gates failed miserably with his first company, ‘Traf-O-Data’?

He says, “It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” For entrepreneurs and startups, failure is a given.

Nine out of ten startups fail. But failure does not mean the end of the project or the startup. It means you change the strategy, transform your ways and make them better.

For most successful companies, failure has been a stepping-stone to success. So those who join a startup, they know that the chances of the startup or the product failing are higher than its chances of success.

3) Multi-tasking

Let’s face it. Startups are cash-crunched and cannot afford to have large teams. As a result, every member of the small team ends up playing multiple roles and multitasking. You handle your own share of work and pitch in to help your colleagues, too. It teaches how to juggle multiple roles and how to handle the workload of different types.

4) Self-learning

Another truth. A startup, unlike large corporate offices, is not filled with top talented professionals of different kinds. Most of the employees in a startup are those who are starting out and do not have the experience to share. The result? You hone your self-learning skills.

According to psychologist Albert Bandura, self-efficacy or doing things by oneself, impacts everything, from psychological states to behaviour to motivation.

 

It has its downsides, too

1) Uncertainty and poor job security

Research shows that over 90% of startups fail within the first three years. This would directly impact the employees of startups that fail. However, young professionals and freshers can take this risk. After all, these initial starting years are also the exploratory period when you can afford to take yourself to places where your curiosity takes.

2) Lesser earnings

Let’s face it. Startups might not offer bonuses, employee benefits and big pay packages, unlike huge corporations. The funds are usually used for product development, for marketing and for operations. The bright side? You learn the lessons of budgeting and money management early on. As for earnings, you can grow as the startup grows.

3) Work-life balance is tough

On one hand, startups are young and fun. On the other, employees end up working hard, even beyond designated working hours and without a concept of weekends. Employees working at startups are in the ‘always-on’ mode and hence can have a poor work-life balance.

But aren’t these formative years when you definitely must put in all the sweat?

Wondering if a startup is right for you?

The answer to this question entirely depends on you. If you are willing to dive into an unstructured, unorganized work atmosphere where you will learn on the job, have a lot of fun in the office, work really hard, learn from the peculiar breed of startup founders. Voila! A startup is the place you should be at. If you enjoy working on your own, remotely from a coworking space, where you find your tribe of young enthusiastic professionals, join a startup.

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