Culture & Team

Is joining a startup for you?

5 min read
Michelle Imhoff

Startups can be particularly motivating with a clear mission and values, being given the opportunity solving difficult problems, and not relying on the status quo or overly complex policies and procedures. These are big draws and intrinsic motivators for many people, but don’t come without some level of risk that long-established companies may not have. 

Having said that, larger companies and the public market can also be uncertain with mergers or acquisitions, restructuring, and reductions in force. Anyone with a 401K can sadly see this impact right now, but do gauge your level of risk tolerance, and balance risk vs. reward (of the work, the people around you, the importance of the mission, the difficulty of the problems being solved, etc.).

Working at a startup could be a good fit for you if you like a variety of tasks and a fast paced environment. If you are comfortable pivoting from a previously defined role or project to something different, based on things that your team has learned, it could be for you. Some other characteristics that could indicate success are curiosity and a bias to action. 

People at startups are learners asking questions, and always a work in progress.  They put something out there, and then iterate to make it better. Making decisions without all of the facts is commonplace. You may not see yourself as the expert, but often you will have to do the research and advise the direction, if not outright decide. 

Structure is another important factor. Do you want it to already be in place or do you want to build it?

Where you spend your time and energy, what work you decide to do and who you do it with are all highly personal decisions. For me, it is incredibly energizing and fun at Segmed. It feels like my own little sandbox to create, play, make mistakes and learn from them, and build something really incredible and meaningful. 

Doing this with a group of people that I respect, people who make the difficult decisions every time, and in alignment with integrity, is the cherry on top.

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