10 things to keep in mind before joining a startup

As per economic survey 2016 conducted by The Economics Times, there seem to be 19000 startups in India. The home grown startup ventures are breeding at an incessant pace. And at the same speed, do many of these startups fail unfortunately. As per an article published in Forbes, 90% of the startups fail in a year. A survey on failed startups claimed that 42% of them “lacked market need” which was the key reason behind their failure.

Picture Courtesy – Google Images

We are done with figures but what about the human resources who are associated with them? My focus is on people who join a startup after getting swayed by fancy ideas, turnovers, senior level designations and quick success. I was myself a part of four startup core teams at one point of time. They have reduced down to two. With this blog, I am going to talk about the things you should keep in mind while joining a startup.

  1. Never ever quit your regular job and have a backup plan – Because someone ‘hungry for monetary success’ asked you to join the bandwagon doesn’t mean you will quit your hard earned job. Value your 9 to 6 job that offers you proper employment along with Provident Fund, gratuity and employee centric schemes. They will give you returns in the long run. Until and unless the startup has shaped up, got reputed clients and long term employee based goal, do not quit your regular job. In case, you finally decide to join a startup full time, have a backup plan ready. God forbid, if the startup fails at any point of time, you should be in a position to get yourself back to the stage. Have some savings and keep an eye on ongoing jobs and vacancies in your field always.
  2. Check the founder’s vision and mission – I earlier never understood the value of vision and mission of an enterprise. But after investing approximately 7 years of work experience, I can say these matter. Always understand from the founder of the company what he visualizes from his product and what mission does he have keeping in mind present and future. Also, check how is founder treating you. In the first month itself, you will be able to realize if you should be a part of it or not.
  3. Understand the value addition of the start-up and competition – Every vertical has its own importance so whenever a new product is coming up, it is important to do thorough research. The startup that you wish to join should have something unique to sell. No one will buy it if there is nothing out-of-the-box for the user. Make sure that the product has a strong value addition in the society and long term market value too. Do not forget to check the competitors in the market and how they are progressing.
  4. Know your remuneration and keep everything documented – Before you jump into the novel business concept, make sure you have everything written either on email or paper. Keep a track on the mode of payments as well. Since, startups don’t really have office meetings or regular meetings, there are possibilities of remuneration discrepancies to arise. Keep a strict check and don’t ignore delay in payments.
  5. Know the background of the core team – Just when you are planning to join, research very well about the core team members. Check every member’s background, education, and work experience. This will give you enough information if it is wise to join the startup. Remember, because the founder is your friend doesn’t mean he is reliable.
  6. Realize the frequency of team meetings and progress level – Startups burn midnight oil to shape up the venture. Regular meetings are a proof of that. Make sure that the core team sits for regular updates over Skype, WhatsApp chat etc. and make sure they have a meeting if not every weekend then at least once in every 15 days. This will help you analyze the sincerity of the team and regularity. Also, keep inquiring the progress level of the venture, understand the growth in revenue and know if the team is going in the right direction.
  7. Know your job profile – Just when you are taking up the job, understand you are giving your extra time to someone’s dream. But at the same time, realize that you are extending your effort as well. Always have a clarity on the job that you are taking up. Do not go for it with eyes closed. Understand your expertise area and accordingly inform the founder what services will you render as a core team member. Founders tend to give very fancy designations at the initial stage which are tempting as well because very youth is looking for quick success. But it is integral not to get lured by the designations.
  8. Don’t get swayed by yearly turnover – Never ever feel high about the turnover you have been mentioned. It isn’t easy to earn that figure when everything is simply starting. Do not get swayed by giants in the market. Stories are different from industry to industry. Current economic stage doesn’t give any guarantee to attain success overnight no matter how unique is the product.
  9. Check with documentation, investors and legalities of the startup – Make sure you have checked with people who are investors in the business and the papers that the venture has. Go for someone who has registered his company and has proof with him. Make sure, the founder has all the legal documentations done and is authorized enough to start the firm.
  10. Never lend money – Until and unless, it is your own venture, never lend money. Startups have no guarantee – they are born in cafes and many a times, die in some rooftop restaurants. When you lend money, there are feeble chances that you will receive them back. So, it is wise not to lend money.

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