This is a guest post from Marie Johnson, contributing author at Enlightened Digital.
If you’ve ever watched an episode of HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” you may think you have a pretty good idea of what working at a startup would be like. But like most information gleaned from pop culture, certain images of startup culture are pretty exaggerated.
You may imagine the startup world to be geeky yet glamorous, full of branded hoodies, office perks, and hefty salaries. On the other hand, you may envision it as just the opposite — stress-inducing jobs that leave no room for work-life balance, sufficient pay, and job security.
However you may view startup culture, suffice to say that there are a number of assumptions about working in this unchartered territory of today’s job market. We’ve decided to debunk four of the most popular myths of working at a startup.
“Working at a startup is all fun and games.”
For many, startup offices are often associated with the most unique of office amenities: ping-pong tables, cold brew coffee on tap, and hyper-casual attire, just to name a few.
Although startups often have a relaxed working environment, don’t confuse their in-office perks for lack of working hours. Developers may work late to get a new feature out on an aggressive timeline, sales reps often put in long hours to close deals or cover international prospects, and customer success teams typically answer inbound chats on weekends and holidays. The “fun” is typically a reward for all of their hard work.
“Everyone who works at a startup is young.”
The popular notion is that startups are born in college dorm rooms and are filled with twenty-somethings who have more experience writing term papers than they do running companies. However, the reality is much different. Today’s budding leaders turn to entrepreneurship at all phases of their lives. In fact, a recent survey revealed that almost a third of startup founders are over the age of 40.
The truth of the matter is, although a successful startup begins with a great idea, the success depends on proper business management — this is a skill often obtained by years of work experience.
“Working at a startup is a major risk.”
In reality, working at a startup can be a major risk. Any investor will tell you there’s risk involved with potential reward — that’s the whole point of investing. But just like an investor, you must weigh out the benefits and risks before joining a startup.
Is the organization showing signs of growth? Is it disorganized? Are you able to understand how the organization will be making money (not just now, but in the future)? These are all factors to consider before you venture into a new opportunity with a startup. Becoming an integral part of a startup can be an exciting time; perhaps you’re able to follow your passion, start a new career path, or just enjoy a change of pace. However, the harsh reality is that 90% of startups fail, so be sure to fully evaluate the potential ramifications before making a decision.
“All startups are tech companies.”
Although many of the most well-known startup success stories are those of tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Airbnb, there are many up-and-coming startups that aren’t tech companies finding success. In fact, the large majority of fast-growth companies aren’t in tech at all. You may recognize quickly growing names such as Impossible Foods, Dadi, and Lively — companies whose focuses range from nutrition to apparel.
Tech companies may boast success from the last few years, but in the years to come, industries such as health, financial services, logistics, and transportation are anticipated to experience major growth. The next wave of profitable startups will likely be from one of these emerging business sectors.
Marie Johnson is a contributor to Enlightened Digital, UX Designer, and technology writer from New York City. If she’s not writing her latest blog post in her kitchen, you’ll likely find her strolling through Central Park, cappuccino in hand.