Five worst things about working at a tech start-up

Start-ups are igniters of change, and while once thought to be scrappy and unstable, today we’re seeing similar policies rolled out across businesses of all sizes and types. But beyond the games room, free food and the napping, what’s it really like to work at a tech start-up? Here are my five worst things about working at a tech start-up:

You never know what will happen next

I must have had half a dozen roles during my time at HealthEngine — the tech start-up designed to offer transparency to the healthcare industry — since I started, from digital strategist to Growth Team Technical Lead.

Sure, we’re dynamic, and opportunities arise as often as the sun. But if you want a job where you have total stability, working at a start-up may not be for you. No two days are ever the same but it’s not all bad, new challenges and new interesting projects keep work life fun and rewarding.

My manager barely talks to me

It’s like he trusts me to know what I have to do, and expects me to do it without requiring micro-management and constant monitoring. I guess that’s what happens when you hire people who are self-driven, motivated, and the best in their field. Management is best when it’s minimal. If you’re not ready to push yourself and need to be mollycoddled, a start-up isn’t the workplace for you!

The coffee machine breaks down a lot

I swear, at least once a week the damn thing stops dispensing its caffeine-infused goodness. Will somebody please build a coffee machine that will pump out 1000 coffees a week without packing it in on a regular basis? That or perhaps tech start-ups should stop growing so fast, because at this rate we’ll need two machines just to keep up with demand.

I can never seem to reach my goals

It seems as though as hard as I apply myself to the many and varied challenges my role entails, I never quite reach the goals I’ve set. Why can’t start-ups be a workplace where we set goals that are super easy to reach? I guess if we were, we’d never get anywhere. We set stretch goals that make us feel uncomfortable and we try damn hard to reach them anyway. If we do, we ask ourselves why we didn’t aim higher. That’s the start-up way.

You constantly have to remember new names and learn new skills

I’ve never been good with names, but this is ridiculous. Not a day goes by lately, it seems, where I don’t walk past another new face in the office. Thankfully we’re usually all approachable folk and it doesn’t take long to recognise the faces. Names, on the other hand… No chance.

And it’s not just the new names I have to learn. With every day throwing a different challenge our way, I also have to pick up and run with totally new skills. Just in 2017, I’ve learnt multiple new ways to implement and integrate web and app analytics, methods for cross-platform marketing attribution, statistical modeling for A/B testing and so much more.

If learning quickly (names and skills), isn’t for you… then life within a fast-growing start-up may not be the right career path for you to take.

But, if these are the worst things about working at a fast-moving tech start-up, just imagine what the best things are.

David Sims, Growth Team Technical Lead & Analytics Specialist, HealthEngine

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