What Questions Should You Ask Before Joining a Startup?


It is important to adopt a cautious approach when it comes to accepting a new job offer. There’s no denying that lucrative salaries are tempting. In fact, a pay rise is a major reason why most people consider a career switch. But there can be downsides to attractive pay packages, especially when your employer is a startup.

Whether you are a new entrant or an experienced professional, you should not underestimate the risks associated with joining a startup. However, there’s also the other side of the coin. Betting on a nascent company can be worth the risk. Billion-dollar organizations like Facebook and Apple were all startups once. That said, here are some questions you should ask yourself before accepting the offer letter from a startup:

 What is the Reputation of the Startup?

Joining a startup without knowing about its credibility can turn your 15 minutes of joy into a regrettable decision. It is important to know and understand the background of the owners. Is this their first time running a startup? How much experience do they have running such a venture? What expertise are they bringing to the table? Is the startup completely new or has it been around for some time? How stable is the startup’s relationship with existing employees and vendors? What type of talent acquisition strategies do they implement?

Nobody wants to work for a company with a bad reputation. The company might be offering you more than your current salary, but what if they do not respect the rights of their employees. A safe, fair, and respectful workplace environment reflects the vision of the owners and the values they cherish. Pay disputes can be sorted out, salaries can be negotiated. What’s important is the way a company treats its employees.

Can It Afford and Retain New Hires?

Most startups backed by strong financial support boast a high pay structure. Yet they fail to retain new hires after mere months. This happens in organizations that accord little-to-no priority to the development of employee engagement. Before you join a startup, ask yourself:

  • Does it have the resources to afford new hires?
  • How does it plan to create and sustain employee engagement?
  • Is the pay structure market competitive?
  • What is their salary payment schedule?

There’s no harm in presenting your concerns or queries to the company. After all, you are entrusting these people with your career. When it comes to startups, it is important to play safe rather than take a leap of faith. The management may try to convince you that there’s no other organization that pays as they do. That might even be true. But you should not make the pay structure the basis of your decision.

The salary offered to you is just a single aspect of the overall job ecosystem. You are already earning. Make sure that you take your time to learn about the financial architecture of the startup. What is their source of funding? How much have they raised so far?

How will It Contribute to Your Professional Growth?

If diversifying your skills motivates you to consider a career switch, then a startup might be the right choice. A startup usually has a limited number of resources. You might be burdened with additional tasks and workload. But here’s a different perspective. Working at a startup can reap great benefits for your professional growth. You can learn a lot, acquire different skills, and have more autonomy over what you do.

You might be notified of your responsibilities in the offer letter. If not, go ahead and ask them. Tell them that you would like to know about the career advancements and the skill improvements the company could provide you with. If you believe that joining a startup could pave the way for your professional growth then you should gladly say “yes” to the hiring manager.

What Additional Benefits Do They Provide?

Ask the hiring manager about the compensation, bonus, and other company benefits. Knowledge about these perks can help you gauge your future move. Does the company provide medical coverage? What is the take-home pay? How many holidays will I be entitled to? What perks should I expect after my performance review? Can I claim company assets after a certain period of time?

Given the current health crisis, you will want your new employer to provide medical coverage. You can ask the hiring manager about the steps taken to control the spread of the virus. Is the work-from-home policy still in effect? Is the company getting its existing employees vaccinated? What compensation is it providing to employees on extended leave?

What is the Current Standing of the Industry?

Getting a grasp of the current situation of the industry you’re associated with might answer your concerns about job security. Analyze the opportunities and challenges your potential employer is facing. How will they contribute to the growth of the industry in the long run? What is their approach to technology? Has their arrival prompted existing businesses to reassess their strategies?

Whether you want to improve your pay scale or expand your skills, it’s up to you to decide. Remember, making a decision is better than staying indecisive.