As a generation, Millennials are uniquely positioned to take risks – because we have less to lose. In the wake of the 2008 crash, those of us graduating from school were now competing with highly experienced workers. Career-oriented positions became coveted, and, with thousands of applicants competing for an entry-level marketing position, we turned to coffee shops and service work where we only competed with 100 applicants for a barista position. We are priced out of the housing market, over-worked, and underpaid.
With mind-numbing debt, constant job insecurity, and (often) job dissatisfaction, Millenials are in a position to make the most out of the high-stakes market that is the startup economy – by either working for one or starting our own.
In fact, some of us already are. Crowdfunding companies like Kickstarter, GoFundMe, and Patreon all help us support each other on a community level, as well as help fund startups and new product lines. And incubators, accelerator programs, and investment companies are all giving new companies and ideas a place to grow.
So, should you join a startup? As with any major life decision, you already know to get different kinds of advice and to trust your instincts. But here are a few things you might want to keep in mind:
It’s not about the money or the risk
Startups have an allure that gives all of them a fresh car smell – you just don’t know if you’re sitting in a Tesla, yet. The problem is – as reported in 2012 by theWall Street Journal – three out of every four startups fails, so if you’re only in it for the money, you’ll burn out fast.
Prospects for job security aren’t exactly bright, either. The reality is that you will always be 6-12 months from losing a job that is necessarily tied to the next funding round. If you’re a freelancer or work on short-term contracts or grants, you’re already used to this kind of insecurity. It’s something Millennials live with on a daily basis. We eat and breathe underemployment.
But the nice thing about a startup is that you’ll still get a regular paycheck in the meantime, and, if you’ve picked a good team and a product you believe in, you might be looking at having some options that could pay out at the end of it all.
It’s about the experience
You’ll be empowered to make your own decisions – and make your own mistakes. You’ll often be expected to do more than you know, and sometimes – inevitably – you’ll find yourself in a trial by fire. Fortunately or not, these are the lessons you’ll never forget.
This is the experience that will make you a killer leader and team player. You will not be protected from the realities of business – you will live and breathe them, and build a better business and a better career because of them.
We’re more competitive
One of the struggles Millennials have is breaking into an industry. It’s tough, particularly when you lack experience and every entry-level job posting is asking for 5+ years experience because there are enough applicants to get away with it.
Startups are a way to beat that system – especially early stage startups. They are small, have too much work to get done, and always need more hands on deck. What they’ll ask for in return? They want drive, hard work, smarts, and an adaptable attitude to take company and product pivots in stride. They want people who are willing to wear multiple hats, who won’t care (too much) if the most recent pivot made their past 3 months of work irrelevant.
And this is where Millennials are strong – we already work hard. We are used to juggling multiple demands. And we won’t have the same resistance to change or wearing multiple hats as the old guard.
You’ll find mentors
Whether it’s within your company itself, or somewhere in the meetups, networking events, seminars, conferences, trade shows, talks, online forums, or plain old meetings, you’ll find peers, and you’ll find mentors.
These are the people you will build relationships with for your company, but also for yourself. They are the people you go to in your industry to bounce ideas off of – the only ones who can relate to that weird niche your company has found, and who understand your jargon. They may even be the people who hire you at your next job, or inspire you to start your own company (or invest in it!).
To sum up…
It’s a bit trite, but the words used to describe startups are true, at least in some respects – you hustle and grind to build a lean and agile company that might change the world. You might hate the long hours and constant demands. You might love the flexible hours and passionate coworkers. You might both fear and thrive on the powerful learning experience, trial-by-fire you’ve gotten yourself into.
You’re a Millennial. You will make it work. You have survived worse. And you will know better. The experiences you have at a startup will kick your career into fast-forward – and teach you more about business and life than you thought a food app could.
From one of the hardest working hustlers out there, I’ll leave you with my mantra, these words:
I dream it / I work hard / I grind till / I own it — Beyoncé
This post is cross-linked from Lori’s LinkedIn page