How to Work for a Startup

Startups offer opportunities: they can help launch your career, can help teach you so much about yourself, and typically offer a better work/life balance and working culture than more-established companies. Working for a startup isn’t for everyone, but if you are a pioneer and want to be part of establishing a successful business then looking forstartups can be a very smart move. 

<strong>How to Work for a Startup</strong> 1

The best startups to work for today are undoubtedly tech startups. These have the potential to be disruptive, and can gain huge notoriety and popularity. The good news is that, even if the product dies after the hype does, you are in a much more interesting position professionally than you were before. 

Benefits of Working in a Startup 

There are so many benefits of working in a startup:

  • You will immediately have more responsibility 

If you want to work your way up the career ladder fast, then a great way to do that is by joining a startup. This works wonderfully if you have just graduated, especially if it is in a business or marketing subject. If you have a business analytics masters but no professional experience, a small startup may be willing to give you a chance since they need your expertise but have a limited budget. In exchange you will immediately have more responsibility and more opportunities to learn and improve yourself. 

  • You will have far more opportunities 

You will have more opportunities to learn new skills and advance your career; and with the right dedication you can truly become one of the core, essential persons on the team and work to make serious improvements to the business as a whole. When it comes to your future this can either set you up as a leader right at the start as the company grows, or if you need to move on it will give you plenty of winning examples of why you are the best person for the job. 

  • You will have more control over what you do


All roles in startups tend to be more flexible. If you start off in a more junior role you can quickly ask to take on more and work on the projects that you find interesting. You can work horizontally, vertically, and more. Learning is also far more prioritized in startups since they know the best way to gain better talent at their stage is for their existing employees to become more talented. 

  • You will be mentored closely 


Since startups are small you will often be working directly with the founders and other thought leaders in your team. You will have these great, passionate people to learn from and who will typically be willing to mentor you in big or small ways. The only caveat is that you also need to be prepared to teach and mentor your teammates as well, so that you can all learn and grow and come up with new ideas that will help the startup take off. 

  • You will be recognized for your work 

Not only will you be recognized by the founder and the rest of your team for the work that you do, you will also be noted by the industry community itself. If you were the business analyst who made the operations so efficient that the startup has finally started to feature in the news and get big business, your name is going to be mentioned and it is going to be prominent. This is great for your career, though the opposite is also true: just as your successes will be recognized, so will your failures. Work with your team to spot-check your strategy, and work to minimize the risk of serious failures, and you will thrive. 

  • You will have a great work environment 

Startups are notorious for having a great work environment. Everyone is learning as they go, including your bosses, and there is typically more space for comfort and flexibility in how and where you work. Not only that, but when you work for a startup you have a much bigger voice, meaning that you can make suggestions and seriously adjust the working environment to suit you best. 

  • You will have a great team dynamic 

Startups have very small teams, meaning that you will know everyone by face, name, and probably their favorite food, to name a few. Though there is no guarantee that you will love everyone who you work with, the team dynamic will be far more important than in a corporate setting. This means that you will need to learn how to work together and around each other, and this inevitably serves to foster stronger connections. If you want to work in a tight-knit team, then a startup is the place for you. 

How to Work for a Startup 

To work for a startup, especially in a field such as tech, you will want to use these tips: 

  1. Find the Job 


One of the first challenges is finding startup job openings in the first place. The good news is that being a go-getter is to your advantage. Always keep an eye out on the job boards as it is impossible to know every new startup and you may just find a great new company to work for by accident. If there is a specific startup that you want to work for, however, then draft a pitch and reach out to companies directly. If you have a network connection then get in touch and use that network to your advantage. Showing your direct interest in that specific company can make a big impression on a small brand, even if they cannot hire you full-time right out of the gate or don’t have the budget for you at all at the moment. You make that connection, and you can keep it so that when the startup is ready you are the first person they think of when they want to hire someone in your role. 

You can find great startups through social media, and even by working at a hot desk in a coworking space. Being social is key, but the good news is that many passionate startup CEOs and employees love to talk about their project. 

  1. Build a Network 

There are many ways that you can use your network to find and work for startups. Many startups begin as an idea someone has that they want to talk about and workshop with others. You can offer advice and be a mentor to these upstarts from day one just by offering advice and being active on professional websites such as LinkedIn or The Dots. 

You don’t need to work for every company that you help online, but you will want to nurture that connection and the network. You never know when a startup can become an opportunity, or when an old connection can lead to a great new position. 

You can even be there from day one in your role, even if you don’t have the specific experience that corporate companies would look for. More often than not, having great ideas and a willingness to workshop them and bring them to life is all you actually need to attract the attention of a startup. From there you will be able to continue to learn and develop your skills. 

  1. Stand Out in the Interview 

If you want to stand out in the interview you need to show you can do more than the job that you are applying for. Startups need thinkers and they need team players. Come to them with many ideas that are specific for their brand and how you think you can help. They don’t need to all be winning ideas, but they do need to put the startup in the forefront and show your dedication, passion, problem-solving abilities, and creativity. 

  1. Improve Your Own Personal Brand 

Working in startups is fun. Find the right startup and you can even kickstart your career by learning as you go and quickly becoming one of the most important figures in the company. If the company succeeds, you succeed, and you should use that success to build up a personal brand while you are at it. 


There are many ways to build that personal brand, and many reasons to invest the time and energy in doing it. For you, it works to solidify your position in the business world. If you don’t have to introduce yourself then you already have more options and opportunities than most. Having a good reputation that precedes you in business will make business deals easier and it will also open many more doors when the time is right for you. 


Building your own personal brand and reputation will also help the startup that you are working for. Having multiple employees who are celebrities in their own right will put more eyes and investments on the startup company itself. This has a positive feedback loop where your PR work improves the company’s PR, and the company’s PR improves your own standing and reputation. 

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