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5 Downsides to Working for a Startup


These days, it seems like everyone is working for a startup — and if you aren’t, you likely know someone who is. Working for a new company with ample funding has its benefits, but it’s not always rainbows and sunshine. Here are five reasons working for a startup isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

(Photo Credit: planetchopstick/Flickr)

1. You are constantly worried about your job (or at least your next paycheck).

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In a recent Slate article, Lily Hay Newman looks at the popular app Secret to find out what startup employees hate most about working for their companies. One of the most common responses was the lack of stability.

“One person bemoaned ‘the likelihood of working very hard for something that has [a] 98% chance of never being a thing,'” she writes.

I can even attest to working at companies — both as full-time and as a freelancer — where I didn’t know if I’d get a paycheck the next week. If anything from the dotcom bust of 2000 showed us (hello, the company’s idea could collapse at any moment. Talk about anxiety.

2. You have no personal life — or very little control over it.

Newman says that many startup employees put off relationships while working. because the time demanded by the startup  just didn’t allow for any personal life, let alone relationships. Over at The Muse, Emily Motayed said she’s had to move four times for the benefit of her company, which means leaving friends, family, and relationships (over and over again) for her job. There’s basically no work-life balance — working at a startup becomes your entire life, which brings us to the next point…

3. You may develop serious health problems.

Depression is not uncommon in today’s society — but in the world of startups, it’s somewhat taboo to talk about it, which can cause employees to suffer in silence until it’s too late. According to Slate, workers may also turn to drugs to get through the day (and night), which is not only a problem in of itself, but could cause more problems down the road, such as addiction or even death.

4. You can’t sleep.

As Motayed wrote, working for a startup just “exaggerates your ADD, even if you don’t have it.” There are dozens of things to get done every day, with more ideas and projects constantly springing up. I know C-level execs for new startups with terrible cases of insomnia, tweeting at 3 a.m. that they “might as well just get started with their day” because they can’t sleep as their brain is in overdrive. Of course, those are the ones who even try to sleep — others just power through for days on end until they finally crash. This is not healthy either, and definitely not contributing to a happy life or healthy relationships.

5. You’ll likely face sexual harassment, racism, or bullying.

Many startups hire many more men than women — a problem that Silicon Valley and other cities are trying to fix by encouraging more women to learn to code and take engineering courses in college. However, that “brogrammer” mentality may discourage women from applying to these companies, cementing the male-to-female ratio. When women to work at these startups, they’re more likely to face sexual harassment. There’s also a lack of diversity, which sometimes results in racist behaviors. The problem? These companies are so young there’s no HR department do anything about it — so these talented employees either have to put up with it, or leave.

Tell Us What You Think

If you work in a startup, do you have negative feelings about it? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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