5 Things You Can Expect When Working At A Startup

Flickr / William Iven

Depending on your industry, you may come face to face with a ton of traditional companies, or your field could be swarming with startups. Never worked for one before? There are some major details you need to know before jumping into this type of professional venture. Here are five things you can expect when you sign on with a smaller, newer company.

1. Having every policy in place is rarely a thing.

If a startup is your first gig out of school, you may not notice this as much as someone who worked in a more traditional office before, but you can expect a lot of “We don’t have a policy for that yet” and “Hmm, we’re not sure” when you ask about rules and policies. A startup company may not even have a legit HR department that you could turn to for clarification. This may bother you if you prefer to work by the rules.

2. All hands are on deck.

Flickr / John Schnobrich

Sure, job descriptions may seem important, and you should absolutely know how to fulfill the role you took on. However, you should expect to be doing tasks that aren’t directly in your description. For example, if you were brought onto a team to sell a certain type of product, you may be asked from time to time to help with a social media project or to brainstorm ideas for better internal communication. Maybe your office is out of supplies, and even your boss is willing to run out and get them. Many startups foster the all-hands-on-deck mentality, which eliminates the feeling of a “hierarchy” but also means that you should be willing to do some grunt work, too.

3. Initiatives could change frequently.

We’d like to note that if a startup is constantly changing its core values and mission on a daily basis, you should probably run for the hills. But changing day-to-day initiatives is actually fairly normal for startups. Your company could be focusing on video content at one point, for example, and then a few weeks later could pivot to newsletter content. Be prepared to move quickly and adapt to whatever comes your way.

4. You’ll need to assess some serious risks.

The definition of a startup is a young company just beginning to develop, which means that yes, there’s a lot of risks. Depending on your industry and the company you’re joining, you could face layoffs or company shut-downs if your organization can’t monetize as quickly as planned. If you opt into equity or buying any stock through the company, you’ll have to assess those risks, as well.

5. You may have the opportunity to step into a leadership role quickly.

Flickr / Rachael Gorjestani

Startups move fast and constantly evolve. If you work hard and bring a lot of great ideas to the table, you could have the opportunity to help mold the company and become a leader there. Don’t just assume that a few ideas will take you there, though — you’ll need to give it your all to rise to the top quickly.