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3 Sign It's OK to Gamble on a Startup

Posted on 11.17.2015

Working for the right startup can be fruitful - just ask the many millionaires Facebook's IPO created.

"Equity-based compensation" is not uncommon when companies can barely afford their rent, let alone some of the industry's top talent. In most cases, however, working for a startup can lead to unemployment rather than an embarrassment of riches.

While there is no magic equation to determine a startup's success, there are some tell-tell signs of when it's OK for Web professionals to gamble their careers on a startup looking for people like them. 

1. Portfolio

Those blessed (or in some cases cursed) with an entrepreneurial mind typically don't just have one business idea, they have dozens. While research shows that serial entrepreneurs aren't any more likely to succeed, job candidates should ask if there is a family of companies associated with the startup. When there are multiple businesses operating successfully, good talent can be moved to another position rather than let go. Of course smart companies don't make employment guarantees, but chances are that if a startup employee works hard and smart, their talents will be used elsewhere. The benefit to the employee is that work will never be dull.

2. Growth

One of the most beneficial aspects of working at a new company is that individuals take on many tasks, which can help them grow in their professions. They may even find that while they came in for one role, they have been really successful in another. Startups typically provide flexibility not seen in older companies because they are not handcuffed by ancient ways of thinking and doing things. Here a Web professional will have to determine if the risk of being out of a job is worth the reward of growing, learning and moving up the ladder.

3. Caution

Fail fast is an idea/practice/strategy/motto often heard in startup communities, but plenty of currently employed executives are taking it slow - moonlighting to make their personal dreams a reality. In fact, the recent recession made aspiring entrepreneurs more cautious about leaving their safety nets (full-time employment) for their own ventures - choosing to burn the midnight oil instead of jumping ship. It's these entrepreneurs who are often the ones identifying problems in an industry and finding solutions of their own. When they are ready to take on employees, prospects can be pretty confident they've adequately prepared for what that means (e.g. payroll) and understand the risk that the person is taking on as well. 

With startups launching every day, there are plenty for talented Web professionals to choose from. While most will not be successful, there are some signs indicating they're worth the gamble. Aside from the three mentioned above, candidates will want to gauge the new company's tendency to invest in elements that matter, like how reliable and secure their digital properties are, how they acquire and retain customers, and how they analyze the information they have and optimize it for better results. Website Magazine covers these areas of Web success in our many coverage channels.

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