by John Capacelatror One of the amazing parts about working a startup is the ability to gain experience across a variety of focus areas. As the teams are likely small, you will often find yourself working outside your domain of expertise, from fleshing out an idea to a product, to helping shape the direction of the company – once you’ve worked at a startup for a few months or years, you will have a set of tools that will be invaluable.
So you’re parents are pissed that you aren’t taking that cushy job at Goldman Sachs with the accompanying BMW and expensed lunches. Fair - they clearly wanted to cash in some of the perks for their own retirement fun. Instead of perpetuating conflict, how about we talk about some of the more prevalent myths about working at a startup and why they’re just plain wrong. Here’s how to respond to your parents:
1. “Jimmy, working at a startup is too risky.” Life is what you make of it. Some are comfortable being a cog in the machine, but others yearn for a life of promise and excitement. Coming out of school with few obligations aside from student debt, now is the time to take that leap of faith and figure out what your true passion is. There is a huge amount of value in recognizing the opportunity to take a risk, maybe fail, maybe succeed, but in the process learn a ton in the process. Working at a startup, especially those that are funded, are not risky at all in term of a steady paycheck. And you get equity - if your startup gets acquired or goes public, you become instantly richer (maybe not private jet status though…).
2. “Cindy, you’re not going to make any money working at a startup.” No six figure salaries at startups? Ha myth busted - though engineers stand the highest chance of making bank from the beginning, all employees have the potential, depending on how successful the company is, to make a very comfortable living. In short, what you may initially trade in pure “cash income,” you have the potential to make up for exponentially in equity. Equity means you own a certain percentage of stock in the company. If said company were to ever be acquired or become public, these shares could potentially be worth lots of money. Money to use on your next venture, your parents, your girlfriend, or yourself (did I say private island in the Bahamas?).
3. “Johnny, you’ll never learn marketable skills should you want to switch jobs later on in life.” This is blatantly not true. One of the amazing parts about working a startup is the ability to gain experience across a variety of focus areas. As the teams are likely small, you will often find yourself working outside your domain of expertise, from fleshing out an idea to a product, to helping shape the direction of the company – once you’ve worked at a startup for a few months or years, you will have a set of tools that will be invaluable.
In summary, while working a startup might seem scary, it is not nearly as frightening as spending the rest of your life in a cubicle, slaving away for some faceless boss. The startup scene is a lively, supportive, and fun community of passionate people working on solving real problems. Now go have that chat with your parents!