Switching to a Much Smaller Startup is Hard

A few weeks ago a friend changed jobs moving from a growth-stage startup to an early-stage startup and he was surprised at just how much he’d forgotten about the early days, and how hard it can be at times. A high-growth tech company with 150 employees is very different from a just-barely-achieved-product-market-fit company with 10 employees.

Here are a few challenges when switching to a much smaller startup:

  • Problems like losing a big customer can be catastrophic at the early stage, while more of a bump in the road for larger companies
  • Layers of redundancy are often absent, making for more difficulty when a team member is sick or on vacation
  • No Man’s Land sets in where the company has to invest in more infrastructure and people, often without the necessary resources
  • Processes and dedicated teams, like HR to help with hiring a new team member, aren’t in place, requiring more time from the employee to take care of details
  • Marketing guides, sales collateral, engineering instructions, etc. are usually still on the to-do list, making for unexpected work

Of course, smaller startups are often faster paced, more dynamic, and provide greater thrills. There’s no one-size-fits-all, but there are real differences that come into focus after making a job change.

What else? What are some other challenges encountered after switching from a growth-stage startup to an early-stage startup?

One thought on “Switching to a Much Smaller Startup is Hard

  1. I think it depends on individuals. For some, the thrill of building something from ground up is far more tempting than the fear of challenges this switch brings. If more work is a concern, people should never join startups. That said, I think one of the biggest challenges could be the habits and the need to adapt to new situation as fast as possible. This can be even more difficult for someone that has a very busy personal life as well.

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