Am I right for startups? Take calculated risks

May 24, 2017 3 mins read
Am I right for startups? Take calculated risks

Most of us can recall some years ago people started talking about startups and the glorious successful examples in Silicon Valley. Now in China we often hear about some up-and-coming startup businesses - be it a food delivery mobile app, a new concept cafe, a FinTech platform, a three-men-band design agency, so on and so forth.

As recruiters we facilitate decision making process for clients and candidates. It’s not uncommon to have candidates come to us and ask if they should join a startup. As with any other career options, there are always pros and cons with each option - and they are all relative to you as and individual depending on what your values and needs.

When you assess a startup opportunity, there are some obvious things you will need to assess through your own research as well as posing questions to the founders: What are its current sources of funding? Are the leaders clear about their vision and strategies? Is there fierce competition and are there are thousands of other similar startups out there that have already failed?

Besides hard facts around the startup that we need to try our best to dig out, let's explore some less intangible factors that require serious introspection - as with any other career decision making. Here are some key questions you should ask yourself.

  • What kind of a learner are you (or you want to be)?

Some people learn best on the fly and through trial-and-error’s, and some people do so through school style training and theories. Not all startups are short of processes and internal training resources, but generally speaking you're expected to learn and improve as you go in such a fast-moving environment. If you natural lean towards traditional learning but would like to become a fast, practical learner, startups will be a good platform for you to train that up – but be prepared for stress and self-doubts along the way.

  • Are you a problem solver?

When you see new issues or strange loopholes, do you have the natural drive to decode and fix the problems or you’d rather go for the conventional/easy ways of doing things or simply ask for an answer from leaders? One of the key features most startups share is that they are lean and agile, and no one has time to babysit others or call for big meetings everything time to see a small issue. Each member has great accountability and is expected to solve problems on their own unless it’s critical one that other parties should be involved.

  • Are you a flexible person who embraces changes?

Most startups go through numerous changes before they mature as a company. There will be changes in company, role scope, product features, product portfolio, production flow, marketing/sales strategies, internal processes, etc. We all have a certain degree of inertia to stay comfortable - and changing isn’t comfortable. The ability to deal with changes and analyze and accept counter intuitive ideas are essential to surviving or, even better, enjoying working in startups. For people who embraces changes this could be a great learning and discovery process that some mature, comfortable environment cannot offer.

  • After all, it’s just a calculated risk.

Career decisions should be made directly relative to your personal needs and values. Startups share some common features and some people are better suited than others for these features. Joining these high potential businesses involves certain risks and on the flip side could be very rewarding. After all it goes back to how you make a rational choice through careful decision making process and introspection. Take calculated risks, and let other uncertain variables play out, and enjoy the learning experience and thrill throughout the exciting process. There’s no need to regret a choice if you’ve seriously evaluated your options at the first place.

Grace Su's picture
Grace Su
Senior Manager | Financial Services Recruitment