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Do you have the right personality to work for a startup?

And which stage suits you best? Read our four-minute guide to find out

Startup is an overused word. From one-person-working-from-Cafe-Nero operations to 100-strong companies with a fair few miles on the clock, everyone in 2019 wants to be part of a startup. Many are driven by a big idea, most come with a heavy dose of uncertainty, and only a few actually have a decent ping pong table.

The rewards of working in a new tech company can be huge but that lack of predictability and structure doesn’t suit everyone. Does your personality match the startup life? And, if so, which stage makes for the best fit? Here’s our quick guide to help you decide…

For the romantics and idealists…

The early-stages startup

AKA: Pre-seed, Seed

What to expect: Everything in the early-stage startup is small, with the exception of the founder’s grand vision (and quite often his or her ego). With investment limited and the team tiny, you’ll need to be hands-on, adaptable and fearless as you hone product and purpose… by yourself, late into the night, eating yet more takeout Chinese food.

About you…  You’re a highroller who thrives on risk, secure in the knowledge that one day you’ll reap the sweet, IPO-based rewards. True, your job description isn’t worth the paper (or rather hastily-put-together-email) it’s written on but you’re ready to do anything on the journey to becoming the next tech unicorn. Or crashing and burning like 70% of all startups. Either’s fine.

How you take your coffee: Black with an extra shot and a splash of Bulletpoof Brain Oil.

For the action lovers…

The ‘classic’ startup

AKA: Series A

What to expect: With some decent investment in the bank and the product mostly figured out, things look from the outside to be relatively organised and focused in the second stage of startup life. Inside, it’s a rollercoaster of shaping, reshaping and tweaking of team, product and business model. Thankfully, like a rollercoaster, the ups and downs are part of the fun and fatalities are rare.

About you… You like to make a difference, and here you see your impact on the business on a daily basis (most of it good). You’re not a cog in the machine, you are a machine; you work late, you multitask, you never stop till your job is done. Or someone comes in to repossess the IT equipment. 

How you take your coffee: On the hour, every hour, late into the night.

For the seasoned specialists…

The well-established startup

AKA: Series B

What to expect: These guys are scaling, with a user base in place and a business model that works. Now investment and cash are flowing freely, it means the company is finally able to spend big on the essentials: branded t-shirts for away days, free crisps and a competition-ready ping pong table for the office. 

About you… You’ve worked for “the man” before and you don’t think much of him. You prefer a more human, less-corporate place of work, one where your voice is heard, your impact visible, and your backhand flick feared. 

How you take your coffee: In a large round, made in turns by your chummy team.

For those who want to feel like they work in a startup (with a lot less risk)

The big company with a startup ethos

AKA: Series C and Beyond

Expect: All the fashionable furnishings and on-trend light fixtures of a startup, but with the job security and structure of a ‘proper business’. It’s a fun place to work, the three ping pong tables in the lobby are proof of that, and someone even had time to use one in March the previous year.

About you…  Sure, the wild, exciting ride of an early-stage startup appeals to you, but so do things like a fully-functioning HR department, being paid on time, and not turning up to work to find an eviction notice on the door. 

How you take your coffee: From the authentic Italian barista in the canteen.

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