When not to work for a startup [for developers]

Career / Friday, March 2nd, 2018

These days, startups have a charm that only Paris can rival. They are painted as the far-off, blessed lands where creativity, money, and benefits are flowing freely, and no conformity exists. If you’re a developer, you have dreamed of working for a startup at least once already.

Well, sometimes it’s not a good idea. Please understand: almost all the startups around us are surviving on borrowed money and trying to find a market-fit. “Trying” is the operative word here. Everyone, from the guy who lent them money, to the guys running the show, knows that there’s a very high chance of failure, but this picture is never presented to you.

Given how fast money can get burned in a startup, you might be staring at joblessness within a few months (or even weeks). Yes, you gain a lot in exchange, but ultimately, you have to be honest with yourself: do you like that idea? If not, then it’s most likely the culture you’re attracted to. If so, try to find some small but established business that has a friendly culture. It will have a few disadvantages, sure, but financial insecurity won’t be one of them.

Personally, I decided to avoid all these high and lows for some time, as they give me sleepless nights. Once I have a stable position in life and ample money, I’ll take the risky route and hope for my ESOPs to explode.

And in case you do decide to ditch the startup route, don’t badger yourself  with the thoughts that you’re a loser. The only loser is the person who is not true to himself and hasn’t been able to structure his life accordingly.

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