Joining a start up can sound like an exciting adventure. The company is new, so you’ll have the opportunity to determine its goals and direction. You can decide on your role and job description. These are all great possibilities, but before working for a startup, be sure to ask these questions.
Having a clear idea about the history and future of the startup can determine whether you’ll be wasting your time or investing in an exciting step in your career.
Does the startup have a mission, vision and set goals for the year?
It may seem unbelievable, but I’ve dealt with a startup that had a mission and vision, but an unclear business direction. The company didn’t have clear goals for its first year of business. That also meant it didn’t have goals for the three year or five-year mark. The company didn’t even have a clear business plan for its first year of business.
The management team had a business idea, a target market, and they created a product which they tried to sell to anyone who wanted to buy it. As you might have guessed, the company struggled throughout its entire first year to find customers. Before joining the startup, find out more about its mission statement and vision as well as its goals.
Does the startup have a marketing and sales plan?
Before opening for business, the startup should be clear about its target market. It shouldn’t be trying to sell to anyone who would want to buy its products and services. It helps to create a clear avatar or client profile. A company that aims to sell to everyone sells to no one.
Next, when the startup has a target market, check that the company has a marketing plan. How does it plan to generate leads? Once they have a steady supply of leads and prospective customers, does the company have a sales team to close the sales?
The journey for the customer doesn’t end with the sale either. Find out if the startup has a plan for fulfillment. How does it plan to deliver customer service and ensure that its customers are happy with the product or service that it purchased?
If the startup cannot provide clear answers to your questions about marketing and sales, then it is highly possible that making sales will be a challenge for the startup.
Does the startup have an HR department?
A startup with a remote team has its own unique challenges. For example, when a new member joins the team, do they have a system for onboarding them? Are there contracts and other papers to sign? What applications and software does that new person need to download or update so they can get in the loop with communications?
The person or department that is human resources (HR) will need to address all these onboarding questions. HR will also need to help define the new member’s role in the organization. Having an HR person is also helpful if a new member has an uncomfortable situation with a team member (an argument, lack of professionalism, etc) and needs help resolving the situation.
Do you have clear goals for yourself?
Some people join a startup because of the career opportunity that it presents. You might be interested in a role in the startup but you don’t have any experience in that role. You could volunteer to gain experience in that role.
You might have been attracted to working for a startup because you have experience at a specific role and you want an opportunity to apply your experience with a new company. The culture, policies and direction of the company are still new, so you have a chance to shape the role in the company, which might not be possible with an established company.
Working for a startup can be an exciting endeavor. It’s like looking at a clean landscape and having the opportunity to decide what will be constructed on it. However, before you join, find the answers to some important questions about the company first. These answers will help you decide if you will be getting the experience you want.
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