With so much caution around startups these days accentuated by the Flipkart-IIT fiasco and winding-up of a few food-tech ones there is still hope and lots that startups have to offer (and much that they don’t). Having worked with both, startups and established MNCs with their People function let me expound what works in your favor early in your career if you do decide to head the startup way.
- Courage: With the entire DNA of a startup built around entrepreneurship there is no better place to witness courage, first-hand. Our traditional jobs, schools, colleges make us highly risk-averse. We are scared to experiment, averse to new possibilities, comfortably giving-in to status quo. But, nothing great was ever achieved from one’s comfort-zone, sipping a Pina Colada on a beach! Working with a startup gives you access to co-founders, entrepreneurs, and mavericks who inspire you to create, nurture and sustain an idea. An idea, that they chase religiously, against all odds even at the expense of being labelled as deranged at times.
- Knowledge: With most of the startups hiring brilliant individuals from pedigreed institutes, you get to work with the best brains in the industry. (Having said that, I’d like to mention that I do not attribute intelligence to pedigree. It’s only a qualifier and not a guarantor of exceptional future performance). The quality of discussions, access to leadership and the mentor-ship that you get is truly enriching. Fresh graduates, this is for you, you will cherish this exposure forever. Who knows you might not even require that PG degree that you’re gunning for!
- Lateral Exposure: One key advantage of working with an early stage startup is that you are not labelled to a particular function. Irrespective of what your degree states, if you believe you can add value better elsewhere and show promise, then why not? This is a restrictive attribute in larger organizations (with very few exceptions), once your blinkers are on, you are expected to tread that one single path that you see. I personally know many individuals who feel ‘stuck’ with their jobs and see no hope whatsoever of a lateral movement. However, they are equally responsible as they are not willing to risk (refer #1).
- Learning Curve:I’ve seen many Graduate Trainees at startups function and scale up that would put most Management Trainees from celebrated colleges to shame. I always wondered why some of them were able to perform at such superlative levels with no so-called, traditional management skills? The simple answer to this is, self-belief. You are offered shoes a couple of sizes bigger to fit-in. What do you do? You ‘grow’ fast, faster than others and prove your mettle. Unknowingly, shooting beyond the traditional performance curve because you never know that your baseline itself was set way higher than average.
- Passion: You will come across individuals so maniacally obsessed with the product/service that their startup offers that the craziness is sure to rub-on. It’s this selfless passion, commitment and energy that makes startups stand out. You own the idea as much as a founder, right down to the last guy. There’s no greater feeling than watching that idea grow, bigger and better everyday. Having said that, it would take blood, sweat and toil but the journey is worth it. A personal suggestion, never join a startup whose idea you do not identify with. You will never feel connected and without passion you are bound to fail.
Despite the above, there will definitely be certain drawbacks (if one may call them) that one might find against a traditional job – work that expands to fill your time, lesser job security, not the swankiest of offices, no frequent corporate lunches, and lots of ambiguity at work. But, trust me, the journey is worth it IF you are willing to dare.