What it takes to work for a start-up

What it takes to work for a start-up company

Kevin Makra|

For many years, there has been much debate on Canada’s role as the new ‘Silicon Valley North.’ Does it exist, or is it just wishful thinking? In addition, which Canadian city holds the bragging rights for this new tech empire? Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto and Waterloo all typically have been the epicentre for creative start-ups, however, this is quickly changing. Thanks to huge growth in this sector, start-ups are cropping up all over the country –which means many new opportunities now exist!

Have you ever considered working for a start-up company? Do you have what it takes? While certainly not for the faint of heart, there are many benefits to being part of this vibrant community. You will undoubtedly get to meet some creative, ‘out-of-the-box’ thinkers, in addition to obtaining great work experience. Realistically though, not everyone is cut out for this kind of work. It takes a person with a unique skill set, who can handle a fast-paced working environment and has a tolerance for risk.

Here are six things to consider in working for a start-up company:

    Multi-tasking – Working for a start-up means you will be expected to do a variety of tasks. The ability to ‘wear many different hats’ within a company is not only looked upon favorably, it is essential. Most start-ups are lean by definition and thus seek individuals who are well-rounded and can fill many different roles.

    Work Long Hours – Any successful candidate must be prepared to put in long working hours. The good news is that most start-ups are flexible in those long hours. It’s about getting the job done, not the hours that you put in. For most start-ups, they eat, drink and breathe their ideas. Work-life balance is simply unheard of in these kinds of companies.

    Deal with Stress – Nobody said working for a start-up would be easy! There is a great amount of instability that exists. Is there enough funding to keep the firm afloat? Are consumers reacting positively to products or services? Are competitors entering the market? Working for a start-up can be extremely stressful and take an emotional toll. Only a true entrepreneur will be able to thrive in this kind of environment.

    Entrepreneurial Spirit – Because of the demands of the job, a start-up company looks for energetic candidates who have a keen entrepreneurial spirit. They want people who are as ‘hungry’ as them and crave success. Read ‘How to Land a Job With One Email’ (http://www.workopolis.com/content/advice/article/how-to-land-a-job-with-one-email/). If you don’t believe in the company’s products or services, or share its passion, it will be very difficult to succeed.

    Financial Rewards – By being part of something from the ground-up there is potential for huge financial rewards if the company takes off. Unfortunately, the opposite may also hold true. Many start-ups are strapped for cash, and the pay level can even be substantially lower than other companies with the promise of better days down the road.

    Be Part of Something Big – Those with an entrepreneurial spirit dream about individuals like Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook. Every company began as a start-up and for many the chance to be part of something big is a huge enticement. Working for a start-up means you’ll have an opportunity to make a difference, and not just be a ‘cog in the wheel’ like at many other larger companies.

If you are interested in more information on start-up companies in Canada, check out TechVibes and StartUp North. Both of these websites contain job boards as well as indexes of start-up companies that exist across the country. You may also be interested in the Profit Hot 50 that ranks Canada’s Hottest Startups for 2013.
Who knows? Maybe you’ll discover that working for a start-up company is exactly the type challenge you want and the perfect fit for you!


Kevin Makra is the President of Sentor Media Inc., and founder of DirectoryOfCareers.ca. He can be reached at kmakra@sentormedia.com.


Category: Job Search Strategies,