You see many individuals flocking the ‘startup movement’ as the biggest new craze on Planet Earth. What you also see, is a lot of these individuals jumping ship left and right from one startup to another, only staying in one startup for a limited period of time. How would you feel about a potential partner, that can’t commit to more than a year in a personal relationship?
Alright, the personal relationship is a little bit of a stretch, but I rest my case. If the person applying to work at your startup, has worked at the hottest startups (or why not any other company for that matter) always switching from one to another, what does that say about them? If they’re likely to always look for the sweetest deal for the short term and not make a substantial commitment to any company, would you really want them as part of your team?
Startups are bumpy and people get bruised. Don’t look for those that will bail at the first sight of trouble. Looking out for the biggest personal opportunity I can respect, but at the same time building a successful company takes time and you’ve got to put in the work. If you can’t commit to any company for longer than a year, then it’s worrying, to state the least. Six months is when you get to the real things and even at a year, you’re only getting started. Speaking of that longer term opportunity, the biggest rewards come around only after a while. Don’t expect an upside for free.
Those joining a startup with open eyes have a vast opportunity ahead of them, especially when in the ‘right boat’. Sure, startups aren’t as glorious as the press will lead you to believe, but the amount of experience, contacts, impact and so on you can have is unheard of in other environments, like your average large corporation. But everyone should be very honest about their own agenda for joining a startup. If you’re going to flake out in six months or a years time, make sure to let the startup know, as they will most likely be looking for those that can share their future success.
Building a team in an uncertain environment is a challenge, but in any context it’s the most important thing to get right in a company. It isn’t a walk in the park though and there are no shortcuts, you will have to build it one person at a time. Therefore you need to be extra cautious of warning flags that lay themselves in your hands. If you ignore them in the beginning, you’ll have to deal with them along the way. And most of the time, you need to deal with reality when it’s right in front of you, not in a years time when it blows up in your face.