From time to time, people ask me what it is like to work in a startup. Therefore, I decided to dedicate this article to the following question(s):

  • What it is like to work in a startup?

Besides that, I'd like to eliminate some prejudices which exist.

What is a startup?

So first things first. Let's take a look at the definition of a startup. There are various definitions and terms out there. And if you want to go into details, make sure to study some economics books. But let's rather keep it simple.

According to Wikipedia:

A startup company is an entrepreneurial venture which is typically a newly emerged, fast-growing business that aims to meet a marketplace need by developing or offering an innovative product, process or service. A startup is usually a company such as a small business, a partnership or an organization designed to rapidly develop a scalable business model.

Let's sum things up. A startup is...

  1. a company
  2. with a fast-growing business
  3. developing innovative products or services
  4. with a scalable business model

Sounds easy, right?

On the contrary, this means...

If criteria 1 to 4 can't be applied to your idea/project/company, you don't work for a startup and you don't have a startup.

If people tell you something else, send them the Wikipedia link.

Why I don't use the term "startup".

So don't get me wrong. I like the definition from above. Because it makes things clear on what a startup is and what a startup not is. However, I feel that there are way to many people out there which have different ideas on startups.

Therefore, I try to avoid the terminology overall. I don't say things like:

  • I work in this cool startup
  • Our startup is sky-rocketing
  • We need to scale things up in our startup venture

I think this is just blabla which people use to impress other people. I really like the German term "Dampfplauderer" (eng.: chatterbox) for that. 🗣💨

What is it like to work in a startup?

Let's get to the real question here. According to the definition from Wikipedia, I work for a startup (I just prefer the term 'tech company') since more than two years now.

And people ask me:"What is it like to work in a startup?"

Depending on the state of your company, you will definitely find different situations.

startup curve

If you join a startup, chances are high that...

  • you get a lot of responsibilities.
  • you can actively influence the present & future of the company you work for.
  • no one tells you what to do. You need to find your roles and responsibilities. No one will tell you "you're not responsible for that, stop doing it."
  • you can work on real problems and challenges which need to be solved.
  • you can get a glimpse in every aspect of running a startup (the less people are on your team, the broader look you can get).
  • you might experience times of uncertainty
  • you will learn ten times more, and grow personally compared to a job in a "normal" company.

And yes: Like normal companies, startups pay their employees a salary (you don't believe how often people ask me if I get a wage for my startup job).

If you have a doer spirit and love to build things up, go and work for a startup. It's great. Really. :)