Startup culture: why embrace it?
Wanting to start a career working in start-ups or even founding one? Warwick Kickstart is here to tell you why that’s a great idea and warn you about some of the few downsides of this professional lifestyle. Bear in mind, this is a collection of a few people’s opinions, and you are the one that decides what suits you and what aligns with your goals and ambitions!
If you’ve ever wondered about what type of company you want to work in, you’ve probably heard of the notable ‘start up culture’. You’ve imagined open space offices, a Zen room, communal lunches and flexible hours. To a lot of people, that might sound great! Working as a ‘big family’ and having creative freedom is attractive to many. Culture is indeed a major aspect to deciding what you want to do with your life, with 65% of 18-to-34-year-olds likely to place culture above salary; that’s higher than any other demographic surveyed. That means that a lot of people coming out of university and looking for their first or second job will be interested in learning about a company’s mission and goals, and the culture and atmosphere that they extol in their company. Risa Mish, Professor at Cornell University, explains that a company’s culture reflects its core values, and those values are expressed through everything that the company does: hiring and promotion, financial expenditures, and choices about where team members’ time and energy are focused. In this article, I want to explore more precisely what it is about startup culture that is attractive to potential employees and that represents the benefits of joining this kind of business.
To go into what exactly start-up culture is, I turned to one of my good friends from high school named Rubens Fournis. Currently studying International Management at bachelor level in King’s college London, he worked at Deus Vault, a start-up that was part of an incubator program during his first year of university. Now, he’s co-founding another venture in the hospitality business. Therefore, I thought he would be a prime example to ask what exactly it is that draws students to this business model.
The first thing I asked him was: “what exactly about startups interests you so much?” Bear in mind, I have known this friend for a while and the idea of working in such a structure has been in his head for a long time. His answer went something like this: “What I love about start-ups is that I feel like you truly see a project from start to finish. I visualize it as sort of a Lego construction where you oversee every block that you put in. For me that differs a lot from bigger structures where you have one specific task and it’s a bit harder to have an overall vision of what the company’s doing. What interests me, really, is not so much the idea that I’ll be developing with a startup, but rather the path that we take to construct our business.” As to why a lot of people in his degree aren’t particularly attracted by the idea of working in a start-up, he said: “I think a lot of people would rather work in a corporate structure because the idea of having a 9-to-5 job, with defined work hours and more stability, seems like a safer choice. I understand that to join the career path that I want to pursue, you need to know or at least be willing to learn how to get back up after taking a spill. You truly need to be able to learn from your failures, and revel in them. You won’t have standard work hours, and the success of your business will depend on just how much time employees are willing to put in”.
If I were to condense some of the apparent benefits of working in a startup, I would have to say that from what I’ve observed they are:
· Increased responsibility and the opportunity to tackle problems your own way.
· The ability to do lots of different things, while not being stuck with a particular and singular task.
· Learning from others, and to have space for innovation.
· And many more!
As previously mentioned, we do have to warn you about some of the downsides as well, in order to be completely objective. The first thing that a lot of people mention when they talk about their time in startups is that your work-life balance will be pretty inexistent. Working in a startup requires a level of dedication that entails that work may never really stop. These structures are filled with people passionate about an idea coming to life, and for that to happen it may require a few sacrifices. Long term stability will also be hard to find. Startups can be here one day and gone the next. They are quite quick to hire, but quick to fire as well. Also, it may be hard to find a position in a startup with a huge payout. Since they are usually working hard to get funding, it may mean that startups aren’t able to pay you a massive salary.
In conclusion, working in a startup or setting course to found one is not for everyone. People want different things for themselves in terms of their professional life, and that may mean that they will be more satisfied in a different type of work structure. However, start-ups promote a culture that encourages innovation, self-reliance, individual and smart thinking as well as teamwork. The process of building a start-up ‘from scratch’ may seem fascinating to some of you as it does to my friend. The downsides to this choice exist, yes, but we couldn’t encourage you more to take this leap and maybe one day join the ranks of successful young entrepreneurs such as Hugo Tilmouth, CEO and founder of ChargedUp, who we had the chance to have on our podcast, Kickcast, to talk about his life and career. If you’re interested in startups and the disruptive industries, have a listen to our episode with Hugo, and the many more that we have concocted for you!