Taking the leap to work for a small start-up can be terrifying, the thought of the company going belly up and being left stranded with no job is quite daunting. The thought of putting in hundreds or thousands of hours work into something only for it to be scrapped can be disheartening, and the risk of wasting your time can be unnerving, after all time is the one commodity you can’t make back. I mean 75% of start-ups fail, that's a scary statistic even to an optimistic person. But taking those thoughts and risks into consideration, is it worth it to work in a tech start-up? Short answer; absolutely, if you enjoy having ownership over a product, solving large scale complex problems and wearing more than just your developer hat. Long answer; well let’s get into that part right now!
Ownership over a project
Let’s start with the coolest part of working in a start-up, having loads of ownership over what you are building. Usually, in a start-up, you will be one of a small team working on a large project, this means you get a lot of say in the technical direction of the product. You will be able to have impactful conversations about how to build new features even as a junior developer, unlike corporate jobs where you are given small individual parts of a feature to build. That sort of work style isn’t inherently bad but in my case at least I like to have a larger input into what I am building. I have found that there is so much variety on the content you get to create as well, one day you might be working on an authentication system and the next you are developing tools to be used for geo-fencing. There never seems to be a boring day in the life of a start-up and at least for me, it is the best way to work.
Close-knit teams and influence over workplace culture
Another awesome thing about working at a start-up is that due to the smaller teams you tend to become closer and make good connections with your coworkers, as well as being in the position to positively (or negatively) influence workplace culture. The culture of a company can make or break it when it comes to enjoying work on a day to day basis, when your team doesn’t get along it not only affects you as a person but it affects the way that everyone can work together to provide well-rounded solutions. Now if there are toxic environments building in a start-up it is easier to break those tendencies because the company is still only young and the teams are small. This puts you in a position to influence people with relative ease with how you act around them, if you impart supportive practices others will generally follow suit and a culture will begin to form as new additions come in and see how the workplace behaves.
Wearing different hats
The last thing that I will touch on, which is my absolute favorite part about working in a start-up is that you get to wear so many different hats. In both of the start-ups, I have worked in I have had the chance to be bigger than my role and dabble in things to do with marketing, pitching, project management and more. This always leaves you with a new challenge to overcome, as well as a new skill you can tuck into your tool belt. It’s not just me that has had this experience either, I know many other developers of all levels of expertise that have experienced the same thing. Now, this doesn’t mean you never get to write code because you're too busy doing other stuff, I would say 95% of your work is still development but it is amazing to get that 5% of variety in your work to acquire new skills and develop your confidence.
Overall if you’re a new or seasoned software developer and you enjoy a workplace that is always changing and evolving, and can come to terms with the risks, I would recommend working in a start-up. There are very real risks involved, but the lessons you can learn far outweigh the risks, at least in my opinion. Let me know below what you think and what experiences you have had in start-ups, positive or negative, I would love to know!