Why I Left My “Safe” Job and Joined a Start-up
A few months ago I left my (really) good job with (really) good benefits at a successful digital agency to go work for a start-up that I knew was about to do some seriously amazing things.
Literally, minutes before I gave my two weeks notice at the old job, I was offered a raise. I turned it down and I quit – I felt like I wasn’t working on anything meaningful and I felt icky about the work I was doing. I took a leap, jumped ship, and got on-board with this start-up (Swapskis, btw!) and never looked back.
Since I started working at Swapskis, I’ve gotten asked by a few people what it’s like to work for a bootstrapping start-up. It’s understandable why people are curious, we’re in the midst of a huge boom in technology and start-ups are more ubiquitous in our life than ever. We live in a culture that is obsessed with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Airbnb, and (duh) Google success stories. We read the articles about the companies that provide free housekeeping services, catered lunches, scooters, a bikeshare program, an in-house gym, and unlimited vacation time to their staff. The perception of working at a start-up is that it’s all hackathons, free t-shirts, and staff boat parties.
I’m probably not surprising anyone by saying that working at a start-up is not all free t-shirts and scooters.
In fact, it is not at all free t-shirts and scooters. What it is, is the most motivated working in environment I’ve ever been a part of. Entrepreneurs are driven, determined, creative geniuses and I don’t mind bragging about our crazy-awesome and multi-talented team. I’ve never worked in an environment where what I did had this much influence. I’ve never been able to dive deep into product development, user experience, design, and marketing like I am able to do at a start-up. The experience that I’m getting now is unparalleled to my days in my previous jobs when I’d struggle to fill a day with tasks to complete and the hours would creep by slowly.
The stakes are always high, everything hangs on getting the right people to invest in our team so that we can build the product we’ve dreamed of creating. We’re pulling long hours and snack-fuelled weekends to make some seriously awesome stuff that is hopefully going to knock the socks off people. But the best part? It doesn’t feel like work. It feels like what I’ve always wanted to be doing.
It’s tough at times, but because I love what Swapskis is doing, that makes everything worth it to me.
I wouldn’t be able to go work at just any start-up and dedicate this kind of energy. If there’s one piece of advice I feel like I’m able to give about working in a start-up, it’s that you have to believe in the company. You have to totally believe in what you’re doing and you have to know why you’re there. If you’re just looking for a change of scenery and a comfortable 9-5 then maybe start-up life isn’t for you. However, if you’re ready to get excited about making something that was once just a seed of a cool idea into an actual thing that could maybe actually change the universe, then yeah. Join a start-up.