5 Things You Should Know Before Working at a Start-Up

Source | : By RIKKI ROGERS

Working for a start-up is attractive—sometimes magnetically so. The job descriptions usually include phrases like “casual, fun office environment” and “room for rapid advancement.” And as you answer questions on their non-traditional job application (“If you were a reality TV show star, which one would you be?”), you imagine yourself balancing on a stability ball in yoga pants and a t-shirt, collaborating with like-minded colleagues over chai lattes.

It’s true that joining a start-up can be a fun, smart, and even life-changing move. And while not all start-ups have the ambience (or the budgets) of sexy tech companies, and not all are run by a visionary who will put you on the fast-track to Facebook-like stock options, many new businesses offer a unique opportunity to learn the ins and outs of building an organization from the ground up .

But it’s not all fun and ping-pong games with the company next door—there are some key differences between the start-up world and every other type of company you’ve worked for. Memorize these five working-for-a-start-up mantras before you electronically sign on the dotted line.

1. You’ll Need to be Comfortable With Change (Really, Really Comfortable)

Unlike seasoned companies that have well-defined processes and procedures and hundreds of employees conditioned to repeat the same behaviors day after day, start-ups are able to make changes quickly. Things like job titles, desk assignments, reporting structures, and project plans are changed more frequently than the filter in the office coffee pot. At the start-up I work for, I’ve moved offices three—yes, three—times in under six months, and had a grand total of six different desks in the process.

The constant change can be frustrating, especially when you’re just getting acclimated to the place or if you’ve come from a company entrenched in its ways.  But to succeed at a start-up, you need to embrace chaos. Start-ups have their pick of motivated young professionals, and they’re certainly not afraid of personnel shake-ups. Showing that you can easily roll with the punches is one way to ensure your success.

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