“Is working at a start-up worth it? Why should I work at a start-up? Is working at a start-up hard?” If these are some of the questions rolling around in your head, then we hear you!
If you’re a candidate looking for a job in the FinTech or Finance field and want to join a start-up, you’ll need to do some research first. Reasons to join a start-up vary from person to person.
Maybe you’ve just graduated and feel a start-up is ideal for your energetic personality. Or perhaps you’re leaving a blue-chip company, with job safety and security, a high standard of employee support, an HR team, extra benefits such as a paid gym membership and a paid 25 day holiday per year but you’re almost certain a start-up company is right for you.
In this blog, we’ll explain the pros and cons of working for a start-up versus joining a mature company.
Benefits of working at a start-up
If the lower pay and lack of extra benefits don’t faze you, a start-up might be perfect for you! Read further to see if it would indeed appeal to you.
Here are a few reasons to work for a start-up:
A unique work-environment
Working for a start-up often means working for a company unlike any other. Start-ups may offer nap pods or quiet rooms to refresh or rejuvenate yourself during a full-on day. They may also offer a weekly paid-for lunch for the team, or complimentary birthday lunches to all staff. Those little thoughtful touches go a really long way!
Work from home / flexible hours
Because the nature of start-up companies can be less rigid with scheduling, you may be offered a remote role or flexibility with the hours you come into work. For example, you could spend two days a week in the office from 9:30 am-4:30 pm, and the other three days working from home.
If you’re not an early bird, you could negotiate a working pattern that suits you. You could be coming in at noon and finishing at 7 pm instead of the usual 9-5 scenario. Alternatively, if you love having the evenings to yourself, you may even want to come into the office bright and early at 7 am (if the boss gives you the keys) and be done by 2 pm! Start-ups are often really good at providing a tailored timetable to suit all working preferences.
A casual environment
Not much needs to be said here. Ditch the “professional” attire and be comfy in your casual outfits. A small office with a total of 10 employees in an office behind residential properties and a small row of shops isn’t going to require you to come “suited and booted”. In fact, studies show that the more comfortable you are in your clothes, the more productive you’re likely to be (hive.com).
Small teams mean you might find yourself putting on different hats. This could increase your skill-set and allow you to contribute hugely to the growth of the business. You’ll feel more like part of the family rather than just an employee. For example, one day you could be the In-House Designer, the next you could be the PR Manager, and the next you’ll be the Admin Assistant. Far from boring and monotonous. Offering your own ideas isn’t something off-limits at a start-up either. Creativity is what they need a lot of!
Working for a start-up means acquiring more knowledge as the business grows. There won’t be any training courses like you’ll find in a large corporate role. You’ll be working alongside imaginative, passionate, and motivated entrepreneurs who will offer a learning experience you won’t get at an established blue-chip.
Disadvantages of working in a start-up
Starting the day at any time you choose, not needing to worry about your shirt being crisply ironed, or taking a few minutes to nap at 2 pm might not be worth it.
Here are some common reasons why working for a start-up might be challenging:
Work/ life balance is unbalanced
Building a business from scratch takes a huge amount of work or “blood, sweat, and tears”. If you’re someone who likes to leave your work at work, this may not be for you. The unstructured working hours at a start-up may actually be a hindrance if you like to work in dedicated time slots. For example, you may be called in on your usual day off.
Working through lunches several times in the run-up to a new product or service launch is likely. This may have a negative impact on your family or loved ones who need your attention. Keep this in mind if you live with others, especially children and pets.
A recent personal example was a close relation of our CEO, Ryan’s, who joined an insurance start-up. She had no idea she’d be doing a brainstorming session around a table pretty much every day. Each individual had to voice their ideas on growth about innovation as well as other topics. She felt incredibly uncomfortable about this approach and that the company expected her and everyone else to join them around the table and deliver content every time. She wasn’t that sort of person and just wanted to get on with her job. So, in the end, she resigned, as this start-up just wasn’t her cup of tea.
60% of new businesses fail within their first three years (Limelight Digital). A further 20% close down completely within a year. By choosing to work with a start-up, you’re along for the ride with the company’s founders. If you don’t mind not knowing if your job is secure from one day to the next, go ahead and join that innovative new company, but if you prefer stability, you may want to have a think first.
As mentioned in the beginning, your salary or hourly rate is unlikely to increase that much, if at all, until the company is at a stable net profit level. Start-ups need to be as resourceful as possible, hence why you may find yourself wearing those different hats. Small businesses just don’t have the money to spend on three separate employees when they could just pay one to do all three roles.
No matter how organised you personally are, anything could go wrong at a start-up and there’s always a need to come up with a plan B, C, or D. Because start-up teams are usually small, there aren’t always specialists or specific equipment on hand, so outsourcing becomes necessary. Seeking external help makes it more likely that things may not work or get completed on time. You’ll have to be on guard for possible last-minute panics to find solutions to problems.
Is a start-up really for you?
Not all start-ups are the same. Each company will be unique in their working styles and environments but generally speaking, compared to blue-chips, you’ll find less structure and more spontaneity. Joining a start-up vs working for a blue-chip are two very different career paths. After reviewing all the pros and cons above, you should have a clearer idea.
Still on the fence?
If you’re used to sticking to a set job description, with no manoeuvring into other departments, and prefer the predictability of that, then a start-up most probably isn’t for you. But if you’re over that now and amongst the thousands of professionals who find it boring (Independent), then joining a start-up could be a great opportunity for a new and exciting challenge.
Market Talent is a leading London-based recruitment consultancy specialising in Banking, Financial Services, Fintech, and others. Well known for our high levels of mandate execution, we offer the very best resourcing solutions through fully understanding, communicating, and exceeding the expectations of our clients, candidates, and colleagues.