5 Things You Need to Know About Working at a Startup

Startup battle

Startup culture has become somewhat of a hit in pop culture. So it’s no surprise that the startup world is attractive to many employees off-screen, too. After all, the job descriptions for startups are often very attractive, with awesome perks like happy hours, free breakfasts, game rooms, and more. Not only is the workplace culture much more progressive and fun than many traditional corporations, but working for a startups also gives you the opportunity to see a company grow from a small business to a budding one. If you’re interested in working for a startup, here’s five things you need to know.

You Have Your Rights

When something goes wrong in the workplace, it’s your duty to stand up for yourself and take action. The problem with working for a startup when it comes to workplace issues is that you might feel as if there’s no one to turn to. For instance, let’s say you work at a growing startup in New York with just 10 people in an office, where there’s likely no official human resources department. Instead, the CEO fills that role.

In a situation where you feel harassed or aren’t getting paid properly, it’s easy to feel as though there’s no one on your side. In this case, you might hire a New York employment lawyer that can help you navigate the tricky world of employment law. “If you’re experiencing workplace issues, it’s important to hire a lawyer that specializes in dealing with employment law,” says the team over at Cary Kane Legal. “Unlike other law specialties, employment law is complex and filled with nuances that vary from state to state.”

Autonomy Is In Full Force

As with any job, you’ll be given some direction. But when it comes to working at a startup, you’ll be encouraged to think outside the box and be creative on your own merit. At startups, the business is still growing, so rather than tick boxes off a to-do list, you’re actually making decisions that shape the future of the company. The much dreaded micromanagement business model is rarely alive in the startup setting. Instead, you’re free to make your own choices, manage your own progress, and hone in on the details as you see it.

Don’t be afraid to expand your horizons and reach your full potential at a startup. For instance, if you’re on the sales team but want to learn more about graphic design, offer to help out. Startups offer great opportunity to do some cross-departmental work if you’re interested.

Your Role Will Be Diverse

When there are so few people working for a company, the roles will often be very diverse. This means, in addition to your core responsibilities, you’ll likely be juggling tasks from other departments, too. Sometimes, you’ll even be asked to do things that feel “below your pay grade”—like walk over to the nearest Kinko’s and make copies of a presentation for investors. Or order pizza for the office.

Because of this, it’s important to understand that you should be open to all types of responsibilities. Just because it isn’t a part of your initial job description doesn’t mean it’s not something you can do. With that being said, always keep in mind that at a startup, everyone wears multiple hats and juggles several responsibilities. As such, you most likely aren’t the only person who’s asked to do tasks outside of your job description.

Long Hours Are a Strong Possibility

If you’re looking for a clear-cut 9-5, a startup probably isn’t for you. When you’re working for a startup, there’s always something that needs to be done, and there are sprints towards a milestone. If you’re working on a big project that’s not done by the time the “official” work day is over, then you’ll simply have to work late. In the off chance that you’re done all your own work, you have to employ the teamwork mentality. This means asking others if they need help, and even being productive enough to start projects of your own.

Communication Needs to Be Strong

Startups tend to have a small number of employees, and this means your communication needs to be spot on. Instead of emailing your supervisor a question, the person you want to speak to is usually right across from you or behind you. Even still, startups utilize communication channels like Slack to ensure everyone is on the same page, regardless of the time of day. For example, if your CEO messages you at 9pm to ask where a file is located, you should answer if you’re available.

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.

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