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What Type Of Startup Should You Be Working For?

Kathleen Beddoes

Mon, 1 Feb, 2021

  • Reading Time:
    ~ 4 minutes

We’re living in the era of the startup. Only in 2019, Australia’s startup sector generated as many as 4500 jobs from $2 million. In fact, the fast-developing Aussie startup scene is remarkable, with the country’s start-up rate being one of the highest in the world at 5.8%.

It makes sense for an ambitious professional to be part of this thriving bonanza of tech and innovation. After all, where else do you get to bring a new, unique idea to life, and be part of (potentially) enormous success?

But not all startups are the same— in fact, the term covers a very vast area, with companies that don’t look like each other at all. Some may be small affairs and require sacrifice, while others might look more like your regular company with some fun culture tweaks (cue ping-pong table images). 

How do you choose a startup that’s right for you?

The first step is figuring out whether your lifestyle, goals, and personality are a match for any kind of startup. 

If you need extreme predictability and stability in your work life, chances are this kind of company is not for you. The startup scene is unstable (more than 60% of small businesses shut down before the three-year mark) and risky.

Working here means investing a lot of time for a salary that tends to be lower. And all without knowing if you will reap the sweet fruits of success in the shape career advancement and abundant IPO returns.

If you’re open to the potential risks and benefits of the startup life, this guide will help you decide which type of startup matches your personality and needs.

The Promising Seed Startup.

The pre-seed or seed startup is defined by a big idea in the early stages of concept development and funding. The infrastructure and team are small, and everyone pulls together to gain traction and crucial support.

What it’s like— Because investment still hasn’t fully rolled in, team members will work long hours for lower pay than they’d get with established competitors. Late-night work sessions and frenzied investor pitch deadlines are not unusual. You’ll get to expand your expertise, as you might have to do the work of several people to bring about the grand idea you all believe in.

Who should work here— The brave at heart (daring, nerve, and all that). If risk, adrenaline, and triple-shot espresso at 2 a.m. are your thing, you’re a good fit. If you work at a pre-seed or seed startup, you should be willing to take the vision as gospel and devote a great deal of your time to its success. 

Does this resonate? “To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.”— Søren Kierkegaard.

The Developing Series A Startup.

This one’s what one thinks of when hearing the word ‘startup’. After an initial round of investment, business operations are shaping up and beginning to look more promising. This company has started to show a consistently positive track record and the strategy is solid.

What it’s like— Despite these new assurances and an already-developed product, everything in here is still rather wild. This is the point where startups make a thousand small adjustments in dynamics, brand, and team members to get the best shot at success. The business model is also starting to solidify.

Who should work here— If you’re driven by the desire to have a tangible impact, this is the place for you. A startup that’s beginning to expand and find some success provides abundant motivation for an active, busy, multitasking individual (and not just long hours of work). Still, you should be okay with risk: the entire operation could go bust any day.

Does this resonate? “Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it”— H. D. Thoreau. 

The Established Series B Startup.

A more seasoned business, a Series B startup is already expanding at a faster rate. Why? Because the business model and product have proven they work, and investors are more willing to lay down large sums on its chances of becoming the next unicorn.

What it’s like— With more money to spend, the company is scaling and hiring more specialists to further particular areas. However, it’s still relatively cosy in there: teams are close-knit and your impact will still be observable. At this stage, you might get some branded merch as well. 

Who should work here— If you want the good feels of contributing to a visionary project without so much risk and potential overwork, send in your CV. The Series B startup is still a ‘human’ workplace with close-knit connections. You won’t get the pioneer badge but job security is decidedly better.

Does this resonate? “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”— Aristotle.

The Startup-ish Big Company.

Series C startups have already met with success and married it. Now, the focus is on scaling to maximise profit and market share. It is what you could call ‘a full-fledged business’.

What it’s like— The ethos of a series C (and further) company that began its life as a startup will still have a startup’s components. The vision is still strong and the fun is still embedded in the culture (and possibly the fashionable decor). Only here, financial security is a reality and the company’s mechanisms are well-oiled.

Who should work here— Anyone who likes the feel and trendiness of the startup world— but not the risks. The excitement of bringing a vision to life is in the past, but employees can count on timely payments and á soaring trajectory. 

Does this resonate? “Peace is its own reward.”— Mahatma Gandhi.

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