See yourself as the next Mark Zuckerberg, founding a startup in your dorm room that will soon take over the world and be valued at almost $250bn? I don’t know how to break this to you, but there is a chance (only a slight one admittedly) that this might not happen within the next 6-12 months.
Here is why holding off creating your own company and joining a startup, for a while at least, might actually be a better idea for your future.
1- A Startup Is All About The Team
A startup is only as good as its collective resources. Whether these resources be skills or contacts, relying on yourself to provide everything isn’t going to help anyone.
If somebody on the team has a particular eye for design, or happens to be a social media whiz, then the team benefits. If one person has a contact at a shared office space and can get a discounted rate, then everyone wins. And if someone knows the bartender downstairs and can get cheap drinks, then happy days.
Starting a startup without a solid network of contacts is like driving a car without petrol. It doesn’t matter how good the product is, it needs something to get it going. The best product in the world is useless if there is nobody to promote it, and no one to sell it to.
2- Your Startup Is All About You
Make the team’s connections your connections.
Make the team’s skills your skills.
If you are certain that you want to become founder of a startup, then using the team’s attributes to your advantage is a good place to start. Invite yourself along to as many meetings as you can, ask the whiz kid what tech tools work best for each platform and ask the finance team about how the payroll works. Gaining these insights will save you hours of your own research.
The people you meet while working for someone else’s startup will be invaluable to you once you start your own business.
A good start up is just as much about people as it is about the product. So even if you only work for one year in startup, you will come out of that year with more connections, more experience, and hopefully a bit more cash to fund your own.
3- Someone Else May Have A Better Idea Than You
In 2012, around $23,000,000,000 (yes that is a lot of zeroes), was divided up and given to the first 3,000 staff at Facebook, equating to an average of more than $7m each. I mean, you can’t live off that, but it’s a start.
No matter how great your idea is, there will always be someone with something better. Instead of letting this depress you, take the positive from it – for every Zuckerberg out there, there are 2,999 people who became (at least) millionaires after joining someone else’s startup.
Getting in at the foundations of a product that becomes global is better than founding a failing company.
4- Use It As A Lesson In How (/not to) Run A Startup
Whether you get a job working for the worst or best startup in town, you will be able to extract valuable lessons from the way that it is run.
If you find yourself working at a brilliant startup, then fantastic! Ask yourself what makes it a good place to work? What marketing strategies have been effective? How are the staff motivated to be the best they can be? Do they prioritize client retention over acquisition or maybe revenue over referral? Is their business model scalable once it reaches the next level of growth? And most importantly how can I recreate their successes?
Even if your boss is an idiot, the staff unmotivated, and the whole thing goes belly-up within 3 months, it’s still valuable experience. What went wrong? Are the employees given completely free run, and end up procrastinating the day away? Or is everyone micromanaged to a level that even a sniff of creativity is stifled instantly? In which case it’s learning how you can make sure this doesn’t happen to your business?
5- It Minimises The Risk
For anyone who is truly risk averse and considering anything to do with startups… I’m afraid I have some more bad news for you. Startups are risky.
Not that everyone who is involved with startups is an adrenaline junkie jumping out of planes with a bedsheet as a parachute, but there is an inherent risk involved in working in companies that need to have a tenfold increase in size each year to remain viable.
If you are working for a startup that does go under, then you are out of a job with slightly damaged pride. If you plough your life savings into a company that never makes it off the ground, then that is a different story. Not to mention the psychological damage in telling everyone how successful your startup is going to be only to be asking for your old job back 12 months and many sleepless nights later.
However, there is a reason people keep on starting up despite the very real risk; the equally real reward. Equity as a form of payment is common practice at startups. While Mark Zuckerberg may have an estimated value of $35bn, none of the 3,000 original staff at Facebook are too distraught with their $7m payout. Play it safe and get the experience and equity payout first.
6- You Can Spend More Time Doing What You’re Good At
Lots of people decide to build a startup in order to spend more time doing what they love.
While this can often be the case, there is a scaling issue involved as startups get bigger. Without thorough delegation, you can find yourself being head of HR, Marketing, Sales, and Product without any time to focus on the bigger picture plans for your company. Unless you have the money to hire 5 people off the bat to fulfill these roles, it can be overwhelming.
When you get hired at a startup, you get a defined (even if somewhat flexible) job role. That means, unless it is part of your job description, you don’t suddenly find yourself spending all day dealing with setting up the payroll, filing expenses, sucking up to investors, and calculating tax specifications.
If you are the most talented, well funded, well connected person on the planet, with a golden idea that also loves doing 100 mind-numbingly unrelated founder tasks, then what are you doing reading this blog – go out and start a business already.
However, if you’re like the rest of us then joining a startup in the short-medium term should certainly help get you there, it just may take a few life lessons to minimise the risk.
We hope you enjoyed the post, if you’re interested in getting that all important startup experience then don’t forget to join TalentRocket for all the latest jobs at the coolest startups in London (and beyond).