Oh, you work in a startup? How cool is that! Till a year ago, joining a startup used to carry an envy quotient amongst peers, but given the recent slew of layoffs and the latest controversy surrounding Flipkart’s decision to delay joining dates of IIM graduates, many people think it’s time for a reality check. Not just Flipkart, many startups have delayed joining dates.
Are startups the place to join right after you have done your graduation, MBA or engineering? Layoffs and delayed joining are common place even in big established private firms, so why the fuss about startups? Aren’t those who join startups, doing so exactly for their ability to take risks and learn more?
“Frankly, there is no job security in the private sector. So why blame startups? What is the guarantee that you join a big private firm and they won’t terminate your contract during probation? These risks exist in the private sector, they have always existed,” says Rajiv Krishnan, Partner People Advisory Services at Ernst Young (EY) India.
Andrew Dutta, Associate Professor, Human Resource Management at MDI (speaking in his personal capacity) says, “Working in startups is a matter of mindset. It is NOT another alternative job opportunity in the placement season. This should be understood right at the outset.” “In recent times some startup companies have postponed the joining dates of their new managers. I think this is in sync with the order of the day where markets, expectations and deliveries are still volatile globally. Instead of being morose, young managers can use this as a testing tool to check whether they have the appetite to take in risks and uncertainty that is inherent in startups. If they cannot withstand this ambiguity, then they are not made for this startup ecology,” Dutta adds.
Not withstanding the slew of negative news in the sector, we take a look at five reasons – as highlighted by experts – on why joining a startup still makes sense:
1) Reward to risk ratio: The reward to risk ratio is high if you are willing to spend minimum of 4 to 5 years in a startup, says Harveen Bedi, EVP & Business Head at Quadrangle Search. “You have the ability to stand out faster through your contributions in a start-up,” Harveen Bedi tells FE Online.
Rajiv Krishnan of EY India also highlights that rewards are not just monetary in nature. “Startups offer a high risk-high reward environment. “You are the trailblazer in a startup. The charm lies in making your own mark,” Rajiv Krishnan tells FE Online.
2) Access to top management: Startups provide the best place where a young manager can get heard, Andrew Dutta says. “Startups, by nature, are much flatter organizations. So, it gives a fantastic opportunity to get your ideas across to the top management. The ‘top boss’ is accessible and lends you an ear. This is never going to happen in a traditional matured enterprise with multiple layers of management,” points out Dutta.
3) Steep learning curve: Startups gives this joy of achieving the impossible, says Andrew Dutta, Associate Professor, Human Resource Management at MDI. Speaking in his personal capacity, Andrew Dutta adds, “The greatest asset that a young MBA can encash in a startup is the inherent uncertainty in the ecology of the organization. The learning curve is steep and so is the satisfaction of doing what was always dreamed during the MBA days.”
Feels Bedi of Quadrangle Search, “They (startups) definitely offer much more variety and exciting work compared to traditional companies. You do not have to stick to your job descriptions, you can chip in wherever you feel you can add value. The environment gives a much better overview of business models, scaling up issues , P&L management, than say a traditional role in any big company.”
The ability to move and learn beyond your job description is a perk that Rajiv Krishnan also stresses on. “The decision making power lies in your hands. You can understand different markets and geographies because the job description is dynamic. There is no hand-holding involved. Unlike a big private firm, you can have a major impact on the working of a startup, not an incremental one,” he says.
4) Network building & better career prospects: Last but not the least, if you join a startup early in your career, such as fresh from the B-school, you get to build your contacts and networks. Not only do these act as important ‘encashables’ for you, but many a times, these networks help you to land up in a higher role once you show a successful tenure in the startup enterprise, explains Dutta.
Bedi agrees, “Even if the start-up does not work out for any reason in the long run, your CV is still valued, as you come across as a person who can take risks and is hungry for growth.”
5) Creativity: Although practitioner management perspectives hold good in a startup organization, yet the young manager must be ready to appreciate unannounced surprises in the environment of a startup workplace. These surprises are the best breeding grounds for creativity, Dutta feels. “When matured organizations only talk about innovation, it is the startups that provide the highway to invention,” he concludes.