Is a startup job right for you? 5 pros and cons to consider.

Jobstreet content teamupdated on 10 March, 2022


The startup scene continues to thrive globally, from Silicon Valley to Berlin, from India to Singapore. While success stories of the Ubers and Airbnbs of our time are awe-inspiring, the failure rate is equally disheartening, with a Harvard Business School study reporting that 75 percent of venture-backed startups fail.

There are always pros and cons to consider when weighing one's options. If you're currently contemplating working for a startup, you would be wise to factor in the following while you ponder on the matter. Startups are undoubtedly exciting to work for, but is a startup environment and culture right for you?


#1 Open

Startups typically operate with an open and flat management structure, eliminating the conventional bureaucracies of corporate organisations. This makes the company far more efficient and productive. Having a flat structure also fosters better working relationships and healthier collaborations. Employees feel a stronger sense of belonging to the company, which promotes loyalty and camaraderie amongst co-workers.

#2 Flexible

Being more progressive and open to unconventional approaches, startups commonly offer flexible working hours and remote working opportunities for employees. This promotes an independent and autonomous workforce that is able to work from wherever they are. This flexibility is key to harnessing creativity and innovation in the organisation.

#3 Dynamic

Being open and flexible makes startups much more dynamic and active when it comes to adapting to changes. While conventional organisations might be more passive in their response to changing market conditions, startups tend to take a more active role by initiating change instead of waiting until they're backed into a corner. This ensures that they maintain their competitive edge and stand out from the competition.

#4 Autonomous

Most startups believe in empowering employees to make independent decisions. This instills accountability in employees, which allows them to learn and grow through hands-on experience, compared to being told exactly what to do. Those who appreciate direct involvement in the company's operations will learn the most in this environment.

#5 Creative

The sum of all the above creates a conducive environment for continuous creative breakthroughs and innovative discoveries. When you are encouraged to push boundaries and play with possibilities, you won't be afraid to do things differently, which is how innovation happens.


#1 Chaotic

Being too quick to adapt can also lead to chaos and instability. While it's important to know when to throw an idea out of the window and go back to the drawing board, changing the company's direction too often will just cause confusion and undermine its credibility to both employees and customers. If you're confused about what the company is doing, chances are you'll be confused about what you're supposed to be doing at your job too.

#2 Profitability

As highlighted earlier, most startups struggle to turn a profit during its first few years, which makes them financially unstable. Securing funding is hard enough, but when the company fails to generate sustainable revenue within a reasonable time-frame, investors will inevitably lose confidence and stop financing the venture at some point. You don't want to work for a company that can't pay its employees.

#3 Ownership

Employees who thrive in startups are those who feel a sense of ownership in their work. It's more than just a job; it's work that they feel a genuine passion for. It's not for everyone though, so make sure that you're accepting the offer not just for the monthly paycheck. Often those who perform best at startups are those who are there to learn first and foremost.

#4 Steep learning curve

You will feel as if you're thrown into the deep end of the pool, which is often the best way to learn. That said, if you're the type who prefers a more laid-back approach to work, or you don't relish the prospect of such an intense learning environment, working in a startup might not be the right choice for you. Those who perform well in startups often go on to start their own businesses.

#5 Lack of structure

Having an open and flat management structure can be empowering for those who enjoy autonomy, but it can also be daunting if you're not used to working independently or lack the confidence to do so. Which scenario sounds more appealing to you: being told exactly what to do, or having free reign to work whichever way you feel is best? If you chose the former, you probably won't enjoy working in a startup.

Did you end up with more pros or cons that apply to you? Remember that there's no right or wrong answer. It's just a matter of finding the right work environment for your values and personality.

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