Rachel, is it stupid to take a flyer on a job?
The writer, a planner, has been approached for a lob at a startup
January 18, 2013
An old friend from college has approached me with the offer of a job at a startup in which my years in media planning would be a real asset. I am happy where I am but I am tempted by the offer and the chance to work with my old friend on something that’s new and exciting. I worry about the risks, naturally. I’ve heard all the stories of startups that go bad, where everyone is put out on the street. What’s your advice? Sign me Deeply Interested
Not all the stories about startups gone bad are true, but surely enough of them are.
The risk is not just that the startup will go bust and put everyone on the street, either. Even when startups are successful, you’ll find that a lot of the original hires didn’t survive those early months, and for myriad reasons.
A startup is an idea that becomes a business, and it’s often a long, harsh road from that idea to a business that actually works. It often turns out that the new business needs skills no one anticipated before it opened its doors.
So there really are two risks, that the business will go belly up and you will be out of work, or the business will soar but you’ll be shed as a poor fit for the business once it launches.
I’m sure there are studies out there showing how many startups go bust and how many people don’t survive when a startup does succeed. There are numbers for everything these days.
But that’s neither here nor there.
There real issue is whether you are better suited for a safe, secure job, or whether by temperament you are built for high-risk ventures.
Yes, it’s all about you.
In your career you will meet countless numbers of people who always seem to be jumping from new venture to new venture, and each new venture is, to hear them tell it, the next Google or the next Facebook or whatever.
They thrive on the excitement of new ventures and seem to carry none of the scars from the various ventures they were in that went bust. They probably don’t even remember them.
Are you like those people?
Or are you more like the people sitting near you at work. For them, security is far more important than the thrill of the new, and they function best when they know their job will be there when they show up for work the next morning.
My sense from your letter is that you share more with them than with your old college friend. If that’s so, there’s nothing to be ashamed about. What really matters is the best work environment for you longer-term.
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