Cat Miller

7 Signs You Shouldn’t Work for a Startup


With their potential to create the next big thing, let you swim in money after a successful IPO, and offer a fun team atmosphere they’re known to foster, working at a startup can hold a lot of appeal. But if you’re thinking of working for one, it’s time to take off the rose-colored glasses.

The truth is startups come with a lot of risk. They’re hard work and definitely aren’t for everyone. So first thing, make sure the startup life is right for you. Here are a few signs it may not be:

  • You’re looking for a clearly defined job description. If you are looking to start your next job with a good understanding of what your day-to-day responsibilities will be, the job you’re looking for probably isn’t at a startup. At a new company, there’s nobody to iron out the kinks before you. You’ll face new challenges every day as you define your role and the company develops.
  • Similarly, if you’re nervous around change, you probably won’t last. Daily responsibilities are always changing because new companies are constantly evolving. So, difficulty with change is a non-starter.
  • You’re excited to work at the startup, rather than excited about the product. The percentage of startups that are successful is pretty small — most of them fail. So if you’re waiting around to cash in, you could be waiting a long time.
  • You don’t thrive under stress. All the risk that creates the potential for success also creates a lot of pressure not to screw up. As they say, if you can’t deal with the heat, get out of the kitchen.
  • You don’t want to be held accountable. One of the appeals of a startup is that you can often gain more responsibility in lower-level roles. And if you create something great, you get your name attached to it. Of course if you screw up, well, that’s yours too.
  • You feel uncomfortable or threatened by strong-minded, opinionated or passionate people. These are the people that tend to start companies. Sorry.
  • You have difficulty maintaining a work-life balance. Startups are known to be a lot of hard work and long hours, but a good company culture isn’t built with workaholics. To survive for an extended period of time, you’ll need to be able to find a balance.

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of playing Foosball to break up your workday or free beers to celebrate accomplishments. But it’s important to keep in mind that working at a startup is very different from working at a big, established company. Make sure you know what you’re getting into before you make the jump.

Do you have experience working at a startup? Would you consider it? What reservations do you have? Let me know in the comments below.


Dice TV

About Cat Miller

Cat Miller has been the anchor of DiceTV since the program began in 2008. A former HR manager, she has worked in television and feature films including the Grindhouse flick Shadow: Dead Riot. She's a member of the Screen Actors Guild, and does her own stunts.