Thursday, August 12, 2010
Break the word "startup" into the words "start" and "up". Starting is the easy part, it's the up that is a real work. Your mission is to try new things. You're constantly in uncharted territory and there is no survival guide for where you're going, unless you've done a startup before. Once you build something and people like it, you have to make it better. While making it better, you need to keep your current customers happy. When your customer’s business relies on your product and it breaks, you have to drop everything and fix it. You will get punched by the “up” more times than you can count, so get used to it.
Startup companies can have nice perks - beer in the fridge, a ping pong table, a TV with a Nintendo Wii, sofas, nice computers, flexible work hours, someone's awesomely chill dog roaming the office, etc. For example, I used to work at a company called Transmeta where I enjoyed free haircuts and massages. It'd be awesome if these perks came from management's deep-seated desire to be excellent and keep you happy, but there's a more simple explanation –it is to keep you in the office. Google has onsite laundry facilities with people who do your laundry! But the only reason to do laundry at the office is you won't have enough time to do it at home.
If you're considering joining a startup, be prepared to work - a lot. Don't be dazzled by all of the amenities and window dressing. Focus on the underlying fundamentals of the job. What are the work hours like? How much does it pay? Is it work you will enjoy? Will you be challenged? Is this location within commuting distance? Will this job be fun? I've seen many startups with a big screen TV and a gaming console that never get used because everyone's too darn busy working.