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Eight reasons to work at a start-up

By UCL Careers, on 6 August 2014

This blog post originally appeared on the Develop you Career blog

James Pursey is the Head of Inbound Marketing at carwow, an online comparison site for new car buying. He gives us his eight reasons why you should consider working at a start-up.

“I graduated university in 2011 and wanted to join a start-up but was drawn into the corporate world on the promise of juicy pay cheques and a clearly defined career path. I decided I’d take the suit route for a few years to save up some cash, then leave to start my own business.

After six months I quit my job and joined the start-up I should’ve gone with from the outset. I realised I was foolish to make a career decision based on what I felt I should do as opposed to what I actually wanted to do. After all, it’s crucial you enjoy what you do because otherwise it’ll suck the life out of you over time.

In the past couple of years I’ve worked at a corporation, two start-ups and also on the other side of the table as a start-up founder. I’m in an unusual position because I actually have an informed opinion on whether start-ups are better than corporates. Although I clearly think start-ups are the better option, there are many benefits to corporate companies such as security, wages and progression, but you most likely already know those bits.

Instead, here are my eight favourite reasons for joining a start-up.

1) Be your own boss

You don’t have to run a start-up to have ownership over something. Start-ups tend to operate on a matrix structure, which means you’re responsible for what you were hired for, it’s up to you to do your job, and there are no line managers.

2) Things happen really really quickly

Small teams move a lot faster than huge companies can, so if you have an idea you can normally get it put into practice within a day or two, not after six months of meetings and red tape.

3) Learning from the top

As I said a second ago, there’s no hierarchy here, and if you get in early enough you’ll be working directly alongside the executive team, learning directly from the people pushing the business along.

4) You’ll learn a shed load of stuff

Tonight Matthew, I’m going to be a content marketer, oh wait… maybe a social media guru, nope how about a developer? Start-ups promote cross-training, so you’ll learn things about subjects you had no idea about, boosting your skills portfolio and future employability.

5) It’s bloody good fun

You’ll be working in a fast-paced work-hard, play-hard environment with people with similar motivations and interests to you.  What doesn’t sound fun about that?

6) You can progress quickly

In less than six months I’ve gone from being a sales exec to running inbound marketing. If you have the right attitude you can progress fast.

7) There are all sorts of perks – weird ones too

From beer-stocked fridges and full fry ups every day, to Christmas parties abroad and pool tables in the office, start-ups are pretty cool environments to work in.

8) The bumping-into-old-friends situation

You bump into someone you went to secondary school with and the inevitable question of “what do you do for work” comes up. Saying you’re an accountant may be the perfect career for you, but you may be the type of person that wants to answer that question and blow someone’s mind – “I’m running inbound marketing at a start-up that just raised over a million pounds from the guys that invested in LoveFilm, Betfair and Zoopla, we’re providing consumers with a service they’ve been crying out for when it comes to buying a new car”. Winning.

There are lots of pros and cons to both startups and corporates. Only you can decide which you think you’d prefer. Just don’t make a decision for the wrong reasons.

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