#5 Reasons Why You Aren't Ready to Work at a Startup

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Startups are great places to work at. There are always new things to learn, there’s the adrenaline rush of getting stuff done, and there are no managers looking over your shoulder. A startup experience seems to be a must have. In fact, a lot of companies looking to hire are prioritising startup experienced candidates over everyone else.


As co-founder at Geektrust, I’ve met 100+ startups in the past 2 years, and I can sayfor a fact that working at a startup is not everyone’s cup of tea. If you’re thinking about whether you should join a startup, here are 5 reasons you just may not be ready yet.

1. You can’t face uncertainty

Both at a macro level and a micro level, startups have a lot of ambiguity. From not knowing whether the business will survive the next 3 months to not knowing what you need to work on today. If you’re about to get married, and thinking about joining a startup, don’t. If there is a major change in one aspect of your life, don’t join a startup. At a micro level, if you’re someone who needs clarity in your day-to-day priorities, startups will be hard for you. Startups are usually great with high level vision (and that’s why you join them in the first place) but they can’t manage your day-to-day work list for you. You should have the skills to do that yourself.

2. You don’t want to be in the limelight

The thing about startups is - there’s no place to hide. You work in small teams. If you fail at something, there’s no way to cover it up or avoid taking responsibility. So if you’re used to working with large teams, having backups and not necessarily shooting from the hip, you’ll find the going tough, I’m afraid. Of course, most startups are forgiving about mistakes because out of mistakes and the learnings thereof, come the courage to take ground breaking decisions.

3. Your family does not want you to join one

Yes! This is a real reason. Working at startups offers a great deal of joy and learning, but is also incredibly lonely. You may be the only person responsible for one big product launch or an event. There may be no one at work to share the pressure with you because they have deadlines and pressures of their own. The last thing you want at this point is for your dad or spouse to ask you why you left your stable job, and whether Sharmaji ka beta should refer you to his company.

4. You need a clear demarcation between work and life

It’s not true that people at startups don’t have a life. It’s just that the line between work and life is blurred. You end up hanging out and being friends with people at work because you share a strong camaraderie with them. This usually happens when you’re doing the 2 AM shift for the 3rd straight week. You can’t drop work at 5:00 PM. The stuff you build gets used over the weekend and you need to be available. If you can’t manage that, don’t join a startup. They’ll find it hard to manage you. However, startups just care about just getting stuff done and don’t check if you’ve done your 8.5 hours (or is it 9.5?).

5. You can’t say No.

Finally, if you can’t say No, don’t join a startup. The thing with startups is, everyone has ideas and priorities. Startups’ work playbook usually depends on a constant back and forth to figure out priorities and who does what. If you’re the one always saying Yes to everything, you disturb this delicate balance. That said, startups need yes men and women too. It’s just that you need to say No too!

All said and done, startups provide great exposure and the learnings are amazing, and India needs its tech talent to join startups. However, pick the right time - it’s never now or never. There’s always another opportunity that will come your way at a later point in your career. When it comes, make sure you’re ready for it.