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What's It Like Working For A Startup? - PROGRESSING YOUR CREATIVE CAREER



What’s It Like Working For A StartUp?

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Don’t get it twisted, people will feed you this lie that has been perpetrated by Hollywood and brands like Apple and Facebook that working for a startup is exciting and you can make millions by getting paid in stock…. YAY!

But honestly, in the ‘real world,’ it’s stressful. Did you know that 90% of startup’s tank? No, I didn’t think so...

In my experience, the best way I would describe working for a startup is like when you’re at high school and the teacher hasn’t come to class for the period, so everyone’s just running around doing whatever the heck they want.

It’s CHAOS, absolute CHAOS, but instead of being able to go home and forget about the chaotic day and come back to school the next day where everything will be normal again, you come back into work and it’s the same thing. This is where you earn your living, this chaotic environment is what pays your bills and pays for your food and rent. So you want it humming like a well oiled machine. But honestly, in my experience at the startups that I have worked at so far, it is the complete opposite of that.

One of the startups I worked was in that 90% I mentioned earlier. There a few signs that I should have probably taken more notice of, but I will cover this in my next article. You’re here because you want to know what it’s like working for a startup and goddammit I’m going to lay some truth on you.

High Tech Sophisticated Office:

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Nope! There’s this notion connected to working for a startup, where people automatically assume that you’ll be in this amazing office with bean bags, free food and brand new i-macs. But this is simply not true. The start-up I worked for when I first got to Canada was originally based out of an old supplements store. There was a floor to ceiling image of George St Pierre in his fighting trunks at the back of the room and then about 20 desks scattered around the tiled floor, but at least everyone had brand new computers, right?

Nope, wrong again! For the first month, I had to work from my own laptop. Two weeks after I started we got the good news that we were moving into a new office space. I was ecstatic! “Come on high tech office with bean bags and new computers,” I said to myself, as we walked from the retail space to our new office complex.

It was in an office building, this was a good start; cue fist pump. “We are on the 3rd floor” we were told, which was the top floor of the complex. “We’re going to have an office with a view…..” how incredible; the previous office didn’t have natural light where I was sitting, just this flickering fluorescent light that gave me a headache nearly every single day.

We got up the 3 flights of stairs and it turns out our new office space was an unfinished attic and when I say unfinished, I mean UNFINISHED! Literally, there was no flooring, just blank concrete floors and exposed aluminum weatherboards with no insulation, it was legitimately the outside of the building. This bad boy was going to get hot in the summer and freezing in the winter, I couldn’t wait….. I did happen to spot across the room a brand new coffee machine and what looked to be a snack dispenser, things were looking up.  

An abundance of free food to keep you motivated:

Nope, wrong again! Now, the new coffee machine I mentioned earlier was just that….. a coffee machine. It was BYO coffee, yes you heard that right, B Y Fucking O coffee to work. Now every person that I have told this to have laughed their ass off and said “surely you’re kidding” and I swear, no word of a lie, you had the bring your own coffee to work. And that snack dispenser I mentioned earlier, turns it was 2 dollars a pop, which isn’t that bad, but when you consider that you only get a little jar with like 12 M&M’s in it and you’re already byo-ing your coffee to work, you can understand that we may have been getting a little bit annoyed. And this was just the start of it….

Getting paid on time is GREAT!

YES, it is fantastic to get paid on time. Too bad we never did! Every pay-day I had working for this start-up was so stressful, because in my head, I thought, “man am I going to get paid today?”, “should I say something?”, “no that’s rude, yeah but so is not paying your employees”. It was this stressful cycle that went round and round in circles and it nearly drove me insane.

Now looking back, all these things were signs towards something bigger that I probably should have taken more notice of but I will cover that in next week’s blog article. So be sure to come back for that.

See you then.


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Oliver Lee HansenComment