Questions to Ask Before Joining a Startup

Geoff Donaker indicated this week at Forbes Online that, “Many people consider joining a startup during their career, and virtually all of them also have natural doubts. When asked aloud, this sounds like, ‘I am thinking about leaving my relatively-stable job to join Startup X. Do you think I should?

“There is no certainty, so you’re going to have to make a bet. But there are factors that can help guide your decision. To help determine your fit with any given startup, I suggest asking yourself these five questions”

Mr. Donaker added that:

“1. Can you afford it financially? To answer this question honestly, you should assume the equity will be worth zero.

“2. Do you believe this business can be financially successful?…The real question is: would you invest your own savings in this business?

“3.  Do you hit it off with the founders? You are going to be spending more time with these people than your family and friends.

“4. Are you interested in their mission or product? It doesn’t have to be your favorite product ever, but can you get interested enough that you will want to read the related books and articles about your competition, meet other people in this industry and think about it during your commute?

“5. Is there a natural role for you to play?

Mr. Donaker explained that, “If you answered ‘no‘ to any two questions, that’s a red flag…A ‘no‘ to one question is a still a serious yellow flag. Think hard about this question and try to resolve it before taking the next step.”

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