My thoughts on joining a tech start-ups
In 2020 I had an opportunity I am soon to forget. I met a group of guys building a CMS uniquely tailored to affiliate sites. I have quite a diverse background, but I had about 2 years experience in web development and I also had experience in SEO. They didn’t offer a lot in terms of pay – but they offered a lot in terms of opportunity. So I jumped on the opportunity to join a tech start-up.
The nay sayers - true friends?
I remember being excited and telling friends about the opportunity. Sadly, most of them were very pessimistic about the opportunity. They seemed so surprised I was willing to take a pay cut. But for me, it was always more about the challenge than it was about the money. Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t need the money, nor that I don’t care. Making a few adjustments to my ‘budget’ (or rather spending) I was able to make it happen. With that said I am not a big shopper or spender, plus I had a great housing situation, so my expenses were cheap in terms if Stockholm.
I am not really in touch with the nay sayers anymore – not because I craved heir support but ultimately we value different things. I am not looking to have a good salary, waiting for holidays to come around – I was waiting for a challenge! It was about testing myself.
Am I bitter? No, but I can say that I am surprised about how my choices can rub others the wrong way.
As for you – your situation is unique to you. I did have my partner Ryans full support and that always helped.
What about a shitty pay?
Well as I said above – I was in a great position to be able to take a pay cut. Your situation is yours alone, and if you cannot afford it so be it. But if the pay cut makes you bring in lunch boxes & skip the restaurant scene for awhile – go for it!
In general, a lot of start ups are tight on cash, that’s sort of the nature of it. You’re taking a risk and it might pay off. But make sure you have some good equity.
Do I have to spend ALL my hours at the office?
No, of course not. But I was never really off. When we grew and we became a scale-up we did get the 9-to-7ers. There is nothing ‘wrong’ with wanting a great work-life balance, but this mentality has no place in a start-up.
I never felt the urge to pressure anyone working overtime, a lot of my team did it willingly, and not all. Some simply closed their computer and left at 5pm and didn’t bother to finish things up or putting in a bit of extra effort. If this sounds like you, you should seriously reconsider a start-up.
How do I know if the start-up will succeed?
You don’t! But there are a few tell tale signs you can keep your eyes out for.
There is of course a lot more that goes in to making a start-up successful, but that’s a different story. These are some important questions you should consider when joining a start-up, not actually starting one yourself.
Making it a success
I bet you’ve heard you have to put in a lot of blood, sweat and tears, and in a sense that’s true. You have to devote time – there is no 9-to-5, the hours are countless. My hourly pay has been chocking on this journey, but there hasn’t been bad! I have really enjoyed it, all the hours spent, never really having a vacation, long days and working on weekends. The passion for the project makes it all worth it – seeing the effects of what you’ve done.
Sanctimonious entrepreneurs and how to avoid them
Start-up is a buzz word and people love throwing it around. I am sure you’ve seen many job ads for start-ups with 200 employees. They are preaching the gospel of a start-up environment claiming to be entrepreneurs.
While they may be entrepreneurs (depending on if they started it, or joined early on), it’s not a start-up when you have 200 employees. To have that many employees on the payroll you have a very sustainable business going. If anything this is a scale up.
They should just call it what it is & you shouldn’t fall for it!
Looking back - would I have done it again?
Yes, some parts are very daunting, tricky and frustrated. I have gotten so frustrated a lot of times, on things not working or on foreseen issues – and in my start up, at the time I joined, we were cashing in. But what a journey! I have learnt so much. I would have loved to do it all over again, and I know I will get the chance to do it again. But the next time I am sure it will all be different and I will face new struggles and hardships.
Make the most of my thoughts and journey have helped you a bit on your journey in deciding whether you’ll join a start-up. Most of all, GOOD LUCK!