Should I stay or should I go now?
June 21, 2011 11:16 AM Subscribe
I'm bored working for a monolithic company and am considering taking a job at a 10-person startup. What should I ask my prospective employer before making the decision? Details within!
I work for a large media company. It's a 'good job' in the sense that I'm comfortable and paid well for the business and my age (26). I have a very good relationship with my boss, and I've gotten raises and a promotion in the ~2 years I've been here. I have every reason to believe that if I stay here, I'll be able to keep doing well in the company.
The problem is that I'm bored. Part of this is just the nature of being at a company of this size: we're accountable ultimately to shareholders, and most of the important decisions had been made before I started here. Part of it, I'm aware, is just my nature and where I'm at in life (I often want to try the new thing, even if the current thing is more than satisfactory).
Recently, a former co-worker, who left year ago to work for a small tech startup, reached out to offer me a job there. His company is, in the next few months, going to launch a new effort that I believe has some legs, and I would be a key part of that (sorry to be vague but I don't want to out myself or either company in question). It is, in short, a gamble: there are many others trying to do what they are, and while I know ex-coworker to be a good guy and whip-smart, I'm not certain why THIS company will succeed where many others have not. Also: they have enough money to stay solvent for a while, so at the very least I could count on them being able to employ me for a year or two.
I really love the idea of working at a place where I'd have so much more freedom and space to create, as opposed to now, where I often feel like a cog in a machine (and a machine I don't even really love or believe in, at that!) When we last talked, ex-co-worker said that he likes working there because he has so much leeway and freedom to learn new skills. Everyone is able (and required, I'd think) to contribute in all sorts of ways -- it's scrappy, and if there's no one on staff who knows how to do X, then someone simply has to learn it. I like that kind of environment very much.
The pay at the new place would probably be similar to my current salary; I'd also have equity in the company (I don't at my current job). I'm going to meet with him again soon to ask some more questions about the gig.
So: what do I ask? What other advice do you have for how to think about this decision? What are the benefits and drawbacks of working for a company with a dozen employees? What's your experience with working at a small tech company? If it fails -- as I know most do -- did you regret your decision to work there, or was there valuable experience to be gained?
Many thanks for your insights on all this.