At the start of 2018, there were 5.6 million small businesses in the U.K. For recent graduates, this means that it is not that hard to land a job in a small business or a startup.
While the opportunity to join something new and be part of its growth can seem romantic and enticing at first, the reality can be unnerving. So what are the main challenges of working at a startup, and how can you best handle them?
Here is a candid look at what to expect.
#1. Overlapping Roles
Constrained budgets mean you might get more than one role. You will most likely go outside your job description to help with other functions more often than not.
The great thing about this is that you will learn — a lot.
The business owners of founders are much likelier to work directly with you as well, expanding your learning opportunities further.
Tip: Taking up business management courses online will open you up to a wider array of skills. This is anything from payroll, duty scheduling, supply chain management as well as decision making.
Some of these courses are available online, allowing you the flexibility to learn at your own pace while implementing the same in the day to day at work.
If managed well, such a position can help you shine and get you bumped up to a managerial level as the business grows. Keep in mind that being a generalist is not a good thing, more so for when you decide to jump ship and get back to the corporate world. Therefore, keep your ears on the ground for openings that align with your long term passions and career goals.
#2. Heavy Workload
Again, startups are racing against time to get steady footing for the business to thrive. This means working extra hours for everyone on board.
At times, this will require you to be on the job on weekends and public holidays. The risk of working this hard is the possibility of stress and burnout.
Tip: It might seem impossible, carve out some time to rejuvenate.
However, you do not have to engage in something grand, time-consuming and expensive. Even taking a short walk or having a mug of coffee without multitasking can do wonders in lowering your stress levels.
#3. You Might Not Earn Much
Most entrepreneurs do not have a lot of startup cash, more so if the venture is investor-backed. With most of the funds understandably going into product development, operating costs and customer onboarding, salaries tend to be lower with startups than with established companies.
Tip: You can request management to offer other non-monetary perks such as remote working and employee discounts and free services.
The latter is, of course, dependent on what the company does. The idea here is to allow you and the other employees feel appreciated so that you do not focus solely on the pay package and feel demotivated.
U.K reputably has the worst work-life balance in Western Europe. For startup employees, this balance gets even wonkier.
Startups fight to survive and even out the playing ground with more established enterprises. For you, this means your social life gets smaller and smaller.
Tip: For you to get anything done is time, proper time management skills are called for.
Conversely, you can discuss with your bosses the possibility of using technology for the repetitive tasks that can be automated to free up a bit of everyone's time.
Similarly, having great teamwork will allow you to have rotational schedules, where each member can get a day of work and delegate their tasks to the other members of the team.
#5. Disillusionment From Empty Titles
For most startups and small businesses alike, titles are just that: titles. You may become disillusioned once you learn that no one reports to you even though you are the Head of Marketing or the Head of Finance and so on.
Often, such titles are created following corporate structures, with the expectation that as the organisation starts to take shape and recruits more, the structures and reporting lines will already be in place.
Tip: Focus on the job and being a team player for the larger goals than on the reporting lines and titles-or lack thereof.
Despite the challenges, startups can be exciting, challenging and rewarding. Staying alive to the challenges and risks of joining such ventures allows you to evaluate and see what is best for you. And if you do take the plunge, rest assured you are in for an interesting ride. With any luck, this turns out to be the next best thing in the UK -or the world- you will have a great story to tell!