8 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Working at a Startup

By June 4, 2019For Talent

So you want to work at a startup.

Well, before you get carried away with the perceived glamour of startup life, be warned: it’s not all beanbags and hoodies, it can be a tough and arduous gig. The workload is demanding, the hours are long, the setbacks are many and the pay is modest.

If you’re serious about signing up to startup life, here are 8 questions you need to ask yourself before taking the leap:

Am I flexible? 

This isn’t comfy 9-5 territory, working at a startup is fast-paced, unpredictable and challenging. You need to be able to roll with the punches and get stuck into projects you might never have imagined yourself doing. There’s less time for planning and more pressure to get shit done! For some people this is exhilarating – the rush of stepping into the unknown and figuring things out as you go. Are you flexible (in the non-yoga sense) or are you better off at a business with more structure, order and security?

Do I believe in the founders?

Not only will you be spending an inordinate amount of time with this person or people, you’re also trusting them to keep you in a job. Your success will be determined by their ability to communicate their vision and sell the business. Do you believe they have what it takes?

Am I comfortable with change?

Similar to the above, being open to change is a crucial part of startup life. Job titles, team structures, desk layouts, reporting procedures and project priorities are all likely to change at the rate of knots, so you need to be able to acclimatise quickly. It’s also important that you’re comfortable working without a lot of guidance and are confident in your decision making. One of the most important qualities in a startup candidate is resilience. Do you think you can adapt to new changes and challenges? Will you struggle with having to pivot continually?


What are my career priorities?

As we move further down the career path our priorities and ambitions change quite rapidly. Where once we may have valued a healthy income and stable hours above anything else, we may now seek professional growth and seniority in our jobs. Before committing to a startup gig (or any gig for that matter) assess what your goals are and how you intend to achieve them. Realise that a large salary and string of glossy benefits won’t await you at a startup but an exciting working environment likely will. As well as that, a startup can afford you the opportunity to impact the culture and direction of a business.

Can I collaborate effectively?

We all like to think of ourselves as team players but when it really comes down to it are you able to take feedback and suggestions from a number of people in the business? The structure of a startup is a lot more open and informal than established companies so get ready for a lot of collective brainstorming! As the company evolves, however, so too will its employee needs. At a certain stage, the team will have to move from a tight-knit group of all-rounders to a more senior and specialist staff. In the words of Destiny’s Child: Can you handle it?

Am I invested in the mission?

A startup is an exciting and rewarding environment to work in but it’s certainly not easy. There will be exhausting, deflating and downright frustrating days where you question every decision you’ve ever made. When this happens (and it will happen) it’s really important to remind yourself why you’re there, because you believe in the mission of the company. Before taking a job at a startup you need to be sure the values of the company align with your own.

What do I want to get from this job?

As with any role, the more you put in, the more you get out of it. Consider what it is you’re looking to gain from this role. Are you looking for hands-on experience? Are you interested in working in a particular industry and think this is your way in? Do you think you’d be suited to the freneticism of startup life? Once you have an idea of your motivations in taking this role, you’ll be better placed to see if’s the right decision for you.

What can I look forward to?

Now that you’re suitably forewarned of the challenges, know that there are amazing benefits too. You’ll be working with and learning from some of the most passionate, innovative and driven people around. There may be longer hours but there’s also more responsibility, variety and opportunity than in any corporate role. Rather than being boxed into one job title or description you’ll be privy to the inner workings of most areas of the business.

Ready for a better career? Find your next role on Jobbio today.


Author Aoife Geary

Aoife Geary is the Content Editor at Jobbio specialising in the areas of Workplace Culture, Diversity, Startups and Digital Trends. She's partial to a burrito, a bad pun and living way beyond her means.

More posts by Aoife Geary

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