Feb 21, 2017

Imagine this: you’ve recently watched The Social Network, a movie that, aside from being an intriguing portrayal of spiteful personalities, is a portrait of the Internet, zeroing in on all its hyperactive, easily-changeable glory. Look around you. Better yet, look at your phone and read stories of successful startups sold to large tech companies for numbers you only see on paper—millions, if not billions. The World Wide Web has been described as a digital wild west, and people all over the globe are claiming their stake, their piece of the digital pie, wanting to be part of the millionaire’s club after spending a significant chunk of their time with their computers in the basement.

You also want in on the action, and you know you have the talent to do it. But hold on to your horses, because the myth of the startup may just be what it is: a myth.

Turning up or turning a profit
What differentiates startups from companies is their work tempo. In a startup, you get to pace the work according to your own directives; if you slack off, the work suffers, and deadlines will get pushed. The same principle applies to each aspect of your business, from budget concerns to marketing strategies to taking care of your employees, so think twice before you spend your budget on a Friday night rager.

Culture vulture
Ideation sessions and colorful workspaces aside, startups are also businesses which involve target markets and competitors. Stand up from your La-Z-Boy because success demands rigorous work, whether from the confines of a corner office in a corporate tower or a three-sided basement. Startup culture is not a culture of slacking off. From the get go, startups usually begin by spending money from the founder’s own pockets; how deep those pockets go can determine the progression of the business: how long the startup remains a startup and how soon it’ll get its big break.

The success rate of joining a startup is a matter of timing. Are you joining a startup at its early stages, or when the startup has been significantly funded? It’s a matter of risk, a gamble of playing your cards right at the right time that leads to breakout success. Joining early could achieve this—or leave you with less than what you started. Again, the startup’s fast-paced lifestyle (and potentially short lifespan) will make you jump through hoops and dodge bullets. Just consider them experiences you learn from, either for growing what you have now or for your next million-dollar idea.

This story was originally published in Southern Living, January 2016.


TAGS: career nolisoliph startup work