7 reasons you should work for a startup before starting your own

You want to start your own business, don’t you? It is cool and attractive especially for those who are into the startup culture and working lifestyle. You get to 1000% focus on your own product and can really feel the impact of how your product or service changes people’s lives. Those are true and positive.You can even think of many other good things about starting your own thing without knowing much about startup. And the reality is starting a business can be much more complicated than you think. When I say “complicated”, I really mean to drill things into tiny details that can ruin your startup dream. Even though I can’t put a price on the value of the experience I’ve gained, I’d like to share my reasons why I think everyone should consider working at a startup before setting out to start a company of their own.

1. Built the network
Working for a startup gives you a great chance to build up your personal network. You get to work with different people such as your teammates, partners, investors or even your customers. These people are important especially when you start your own business later. They can be your potential co-founder, potential investor or other people via their networks can be part of your startup in the future.

2. Build your name
In the startup world, your reputation is incredibly important. It will dictate who you can recruit for your team, who will be willing to be your advisors and investors and what doors your network may open. A reputation is not build overnight and so building your reputation can be easier while working at a startup through representing a product and interacting with thousands of people via different social media platforms. There are few things more powerful than members of your team and especially the founders attesting to your work ethic and character.

3. Learn the industry
You have the passion and skills (or even $$) to start your own business  but it doesn’t mean you understand the industry and market situation. Understanding some basics of the industry and market is crucial because it gives you a more complete picture on what to expect in the future. By working for a startup, you get to learn more about the industry by meeting different people within or outside the company. You get to join the local startup community and meet with different startup founders and hackers. You get to experience the market reaction and learn how to response. You also get to know about the local labor market in your industry by interviewing different candidates or speaking at school career talk. All these are valuable for you and give you a bigger picture on what you need to expect and experience in your own startup.

4. Play the VC game
I am sure this is the game that almost every founder needs to learn how to play. How to to do a VC pitch? How to write a investment proposal? How and which VC should I choose? Should I raise VC money now? You have no way to learn these things without actually experiencing in a real business environment. You may be able to experience and learn how to get in touch and deal with the investors by working for a startup. Even though sometimes the VC game doesn’t go so well, you still learn the lesson and will be able to apply them in your game.

5. See how a team operates
You might think that team dynamics would be easy. You might have done a lot of class projects and been in many groups before, during and after college. How hard could it be to operate and grow a team? In fact, it’s very hard. I’ve seen how team dynamics can change dramatically and how many curveballs life sends you; our team has celebrated life and faced death, which you’re really not prepared for until you experience it.

6. Learn to be CEO
One of the best thing about working for startup is that you get to well connected with the management team (I wrote another post on “6 reasons why I work for startup“). With less (or zero) levels of bureaucracy, everyone is closer to one another. You get to experience how your CEO leads you and the rest of the team towards the team direction. You get to see how a CEO interacts and motivates you and other team members. You also get to feel the pain your CEO has to deal with on daily basis.

7. See if this is really your thing
In the end, startups need a lot more employees than they need founders. There is nothing wrong with just loving working at startups versus actually founding a company. It’s an incredible amount of work to get a startup off the ground, gain traction, build a team, lead your team and deal with all the fires of a growing startup. The hours are long, and the expectations are high. Working for a startup can give you some clues about running a startup and most importantly allows you to stop and think whether if this is something that you are looking for.

Even though the startup experience can’t guarantee you for any future success, it definitely puts you to in the game and helps you to better expect what things are likely going to happen while starting your own.

Have you worked for a startup before you starting your own? Do you find the startup experience helpful for creating your own startup? What benefits do you see?

Photo credit: nextgenstn

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