How long are you prepared to work in startup having a much lower salary?

There are a few things that one should always keep in mind while joining a startup – one that it is a risk, second that it is going to take a long time for the seeds of prosperity to mature and thirdly, ask yourself what you are actually after – money or knowledge? According to the surveys, it has been seen that 75% of the startups close down in their first year itself and only 25% of them make it to their second or third year and only 2%-5% actually last longer. With that being said, the point that it is a risk to join a startup is evidently proved. The point that it is going to take a long time for the seeds of prosperity is going to take a long time to mature can be proven based on the fact that most of the startups do not provide high salaries as they are always on a tight finances and tend to mostly give salaries that are far below the industry-standards. This is compensated by open working environment, family like working atmosphere, more responsibilities, learning driven work culture, tightly knit corporate structure and friendly atmosphere at work. It is fun to work at a startup, no doubt about that and one does actually learn a lot because one can improvise, enjoy wider responsibilities and be the boss of your own work freely.

But, everyone works for money and therefore, from career point of view, if you are joining a startup, you have to make sure that you check the background of the company, analyze its future scope and give yourself personally a time period, say 3-4 years before you make the next career move. It is necessary to have a plan beforehand because you can’t keep working on a low salary forever and within the time period you allot yourself, you will be able to determine whether the company is moving ahead in the right direction and the equity you are given as a compensation for low salary is actually going to make any money for you or not and whether the company is going to be successful or not. When you calculate with what you are getting and what the industry standard pay is, there is a big difference that will come out so working without a plan is going to make you feel like a loser at the end of the day. However, the experience you gain at the startup is going to count a lot when going for an interview at other well established company, so it’s actually a plus after all.

The period of four years is generally prescribed because there is a lock-in period for the equity to be liquidated and that’s four years. If the company has actually done well, then you can actually transfer the equity to cash after four years and at many successful ventures, people have actually become millionaires overnight through this. But, that’s a rare instance and you need to make sure that you bag a good equity deal at the very start. Also, what your priorities are while joining a startup can make a lot of difference while answering how long you would stick to the company. If you are a fresher, joining a startup is going to teach you a lot and if you are already a thoroughly experienced professional, then joining a startup will only make sense if you are high up in the management strata with a good percentage of equity in your belly. But, for an experienced professional to join a startup is actually more risky, especially the ones who have family and bills to pay, until unless you are one of the founder members. Then, it’s a different ball game altogether.

So, in the end it can be said that you must make a plan as to how many years you want to stick to the company and wait for the company to mature as if you are in the pilot batch and the company goes gaga, there is a high chance of the first batch of employees to move up the management levels with a higher salary. Also, your priorities will tell you a lot about the time period for which you want to stick to the company. You can learn a lot for sure but learning without earning enough can make no sense after a while, so if you have learned all that you have to and you sense that the company’s growth is stagnant or slow, make your move as soon as possible.


Read also: How to negotiate for a better salary if the startup is having profits?


Article contributed by Startup Jobs Asia‘s Team.

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