Startups are companies in the early stages of development (hence the name)—usually, smaller than 100 employees. Yet, from the very start, the company’s founders aim to scale the operations and grow. Startups are usually born in highly competitive fields such as IT, healthcare, or agriculture. Moreover, they often start their adventure with a sort of debt, namely funds from private investors or bank loans. 

For these reasons, startups often fail; after 10 years from incorporation, only about 10% of startups survive on the market—and among those, many change owners by getting sold to larger companies. Nevertheless, there is no shortage of adventurous founders willing to try their luck launching a new enterprise in the hope to create the next unicorn company.

Startup culture also earned a lot of stereotypes due to Hollywood movies such as, e.g., The Social Network (2010), The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley (2019), or Ingenious (2012). According to Hollywood, a proper startup is born in a garage, preferably by an Ivy League dropout who decides to go on a personal crusade to change the world. Or, by a bunch of underdogs who get together and accidentally get rich. And of course, startups are populated by long-haired creators who are not fond of the shower and spend evenings alone in the office consuming pizza and beer. Well, needless to say, these stereotypes are (usually…) far from reality.


Flat Structure

Startups usually have a much flatter structure than corporations. Of course, even if the office looks cozy and people look and behave informal, it is still a professional environment in which you sell your time to execute your boss’ projects and where productivity matters. Employees who forget this simple fact, don’t have a long-lived career in a startup.

While a corporation is like an army, a startup is like a band. Namely, it is a group of people who need to synchronize their actions and play together. Since there are only a few people in the startup, it’s usually welcome if you have more than one core competence, and if you can share or swap roles with other team members if necessary. 

For instance, let’s assume that you are a software developer in a startup. Your boss is on a business trip, and the secretary just got sick. The phone in the secretary’s office is ringing. Will you ignore it, or will you storm into the secretary’s office and pick it up? In a corporation, getting into someone else’s office when they are absent (without the authorization to do so) would be seen as a violation of the corporate rules and could have serious consequences. In a startup, proactive behavior will be treated as a sign of team spirit rather than as a problem—as it can save the business deal for the company. In the startup, every time you get out of your role to help someone else or think out of the box, you’ll score points.


Uncertainty and Chaos

Startups are infant companies and as such, they have a high mortality rate. Therefore, as a startup employee, you can expect even more chaotic working dynamics than in a corporation. Usually, startups work in the Business-to-Customer (B2C) model, Business-to-Business (B2B) model, or Business-to-Government (B2G) model. The amount of associated chaos in the startup also depends on which of these three business models that the startup represents. 

Business-to-Customer (B2C) means providing products and services straight to the private individuals. These can be, e.g., online social media platforms, online stores, or other online services that attract individuals who spend their private time and money. In that case, a startup sells products and services with a low retail price and at low customer-acquisition costs. 

Therefore, to become profitable, they need to acquire as many clients as possible and make the clients happy—but at the same time, their overall success doesn’t rely on any particular client. So, they closely monitor the growth curve, and are occupied with improving on both the product and the marketing strategy to make sure that the number of users, and therefore also the company revenue, gradually grows. 

The typical workflow in such startups is setting weekly targets and trying to reach the expected inflation in the number of active users week by week. If it turns out that the current marketing strategy doesn’t lead to the reaching the targets, it might also mean rapid structural, personal, or procedural changes to the company—hence, the constant uncertainty and chaos.

On the contrary, a startup working in the Business-to-Business (B2B) model provides services to businesses. In this scenario, the company depends on a few core clients—and sometimes, even on a single client. It means that the dynamics within the company is hardly ever stable, as the life within the company pivots around the deadlines established by the client. As the popular proverb says, the client is the king—therefore, whenever the client expect some last-minute amendments, they should be delivered asap.

Lastly, startups working in the Business-to-Government (B2G) model usually have the most stable dynamics. It is because governmental organizations are loyal: they usually keep on working with the same subcontractors for years. They also usually have well-defined deliverables, thus, there are less surprises and last-minute changes to the plan then while working with companies. However, the B2G model is rarely represented by startups as it is rarely scalable.

In either case, while working for a startup, you can also expect that investors and other stakeholders of the startup might interfere with the roadmap at any stage as they also have their say in how the company should further develop. Therefore, the  plans might rapidly change in the process.

One thing to mention is that, the extent to which your startup life can be unstable strongly depends on where in the world the startup is based. If you find yourself in one of the sacred temples of entrepreneurship such as the Silicon Valley in the US, or Bangalore in India, you can expect a high tempo of work and fast dynamics within the company. In those epicenters of startup culture, there are herds of dreamers obsessed with the idea to create yet another bigger-than-life project that will change the world. So, if you decide to work them, it might be the case that they won’t treat your free time with too much respect. 

For comparison, in Western Europe, it is often the case that working hours in a startup resemble the proverbial 9-to-5, and employees stand their ground in that respect. Therefore, please take into an account that the dynamics of the startup life will highly depend on where the startup is based, and according to which school of thought is was created.

Friendly, Informal Atmosphere and Encouragement To Think Out-of-the Box

In a startup, your employers will do their best to give you the impression that you are a valued team member. They will aim to create an atmosphere in which all the team members feel equal, and in which you can step forward with your own ideas. Indeed, in most startups, it is true: you are more than welcome to be creative and propose your solutions. Of course, there is no free lunch. After all, your original concepts and contributions will become the IP of the company, and will support the company in the race against the competition.

However, if you like working environments where you can allow yourself to be informal with your team, joke around your boss, and express your personality without worrying that it will be taken as an unprofessional behavior, it might be a good choice for you!

Flexible Working Hours

There are always two sides to every coin (unless it’s Bitcoin, but that’s another story…). On the one hand, as a startup employee, you will need to accept the associated uncertainty and chaos. On the other hand however, you can also expect more flexible working hours than you would encounter in corporate environments. 

While most corporations control the working hours of their employees with the use of chip cards, most startups do not do that. E.g., if you suddenly disappear from the office for half a day just because you have got a last-minute appointment with a doctor and you decide to work in the evening on that day instead, then most probably, your boss won’t perceive this as a problem—as long as your absence won’t make it harder for other team members to complete their tasks in time.

Moreover, in corporations, what is closely watched and assessed—and therefore, also valued—are your diligence and involvement. To score points in your manager’s books, you need to be efficient, punctual, and complete your tasks in a timely manner. On the contrary, in startups, everything boils down to your results. If you are a money-maker for the company (e.g., because you can program novel features for the product or you are a magician salesperson), you are a valuable asset. In that case, it won’t matter all that much whether your work for ten hours a day or  rather, you tend to leave your office early. 

In other words, startups concentrate on being effective rather than on being efficient. In a startup, the ultimate impact of your actions on the condition of the company matters much more than how fast you can work, for how many hours you can hold your attention, and how many tasks you can complete per day.

In general, startups are also more welcoming to the idea of working from home than corporations. In fact, today, many startups only work remotely. Some of them hire talent from all around the world, therefore, they don’t even hold stationary offices anymore. Of course, much of this cultural change happened after the breakout of corona crisis, but the process of decentralizing startups was gradually progressing for many years before the corona crisis anyway.


Real Teamwork

If strong teamwork in workplace is of high value to you, a startup job might be an optimal solution for you. Any startup team has just one, well-defined goal: to develop the best product or service in their market niche, and to rock the market with it. Your colleagues’ success automatically becomes your success and vice versa. There is no gradation of contribution within the team: you win together, or you lose together. 

Of course, in theory, employees of any company or organization should have synergistic goals and support each other. However, in fact, in many types of companies—such as in corporations—it pays off better to prioritize your own portfolio of projects, courses, internships, and other experiences that will eventually lead to your promotion, and make sure that your work gets properly noticed, rather than focus on the team’s success. 

In startups however, once you succeed as a core team, you will all get promoted at the same time—the startup will start growing, getting in employees, and those new employees will get hired under you.

Growth Together With the Company

Related to the previous point, if you join the core team early in the process and the company grows from that point, this will bring you lots of benefits. Your amount of responsibility and your status in the hierarchy will gradually increase.

Typically, the members of the core team are further appointed as heads of the departments and have a say when it comes to making strategic decisions about the shape of the whole company. Most likely, new employees will get hired under your lead—so, if you stay within the company for a few years, then one day, you might become the head of a large department.

You Can Get a Piece Of the Cake

If you join the startup early on, you need to accept the risk of working for a budding company that will not necessarily survive in the job market in the future. There are no univocal statistics for the percentage of startups that eventually survive the market competition and maturate, as differs between countries. 

E.g., according to Small Business Administration, the American government agency assisting small businesses, in 2019, the failure rate of startups on a 10-year distance was around 90% (only 21.5% of them fail in the first year, the rest of them fails later in the process, Bryant, 2020). In general, while taking the decision to worker a startup, you need to mentally prepare for the fact that failure can happen. 

However, if you are willing to take this risk on your chest, you can get the company share certificates next to your salary. In this way, startup owners compensate their employees for taking the bold decision to work for a startup. Of course, there is no free lunch. Therefore, these shares are usually vested for a period of a few years. It means that you will only be able to benefit from them, e.g., by selling them, if you stay with the company for all this time. Of course, the aim here is to bind you to the company and motivate you to work on behalf of the company even harder—as the value of your shares will also depend on the overall success of the company. 

Of course, this motivation technique does not work for everyone. Some people have a strong sense of ownership of the projects. They get driven to work even harder when they can feel like they were the co-owners of the company—even if their share in the project is very tiny in fact. For others, some piece of paper stating that they  own shares in a company that might fail at any moment is a carrot on a stick and doesn’t motivate them at all—they would prefer to get more cash instead. Therefore,  this piece of cake won’t necessarily feel tasty to you!

Possibly, a Good Paycheck

In many countries, startup jobs are paid better than corporate jobs with similar set of responsibilities. This is yet another form of compensation for the higher level of insecurity associated with working for a startup. This is not true worldwide though!—you need to check the local market conditions in your geographical area online, e.g., by comparing average salaries in various types of companies on websites such as Glassdoor.

Learning Experience

Many successful entrepreneurs start their careers from working in startups where they can learn from their bosses’ mistakes. Before you start your own business, it’s good to see how to run and how not to run a startup. Thus, an opportunity to closely watch entrepreneurs at work is an invaluable experience if you are thinking of ever starting a company on your own. And, you will receive a salary for this hands-on business training!

One especially important aspect of this practical training is that, startups need to be frugal. Unlike established companies, they don’t have free cash to spend on luxuries such as, e.g., visiting expensive business conferences, renting fancy offices in skyscrapers in the city center, hiring extra employees as soon as they start getting more inquiries about their products, or building dozens of new features just because there is a ~1% chance that the customers will like some of them enough to buy the product. 

Therefore, they need to be smart and creative in terms of how to focus on building the Minimal Viable Product (MVP), how to appear as bigger, more established and accomplished than they are in fact, how to become visible online and build a brand without much financial resources, how to reach the potential customers as quickly as possible… Business development is a street knowledge which you can only get from practice. If you fancy building your own company one day, working for a startup is the best school of business development you could ever join.

Startups Value People With a Strong Personality Higher Than Corporations

As mentioned before, in startups results matter the most. Let’s imagine that you are the type of person who doesn’t hesitate to speak out whenever some solution is suboptimal, something doesn’t make sense, or needs to be radically improved. You use to openly tell others that they are wrong in their opinions, that they made a mistake in their work, or that they misbehave. 

In that case, startups will value you—you can prevent them from substantial delays and losses. They will appreciate you and your honest and straightforward input much more than public institutions or corporations where keeping the status quo and maintaining the picnic atmosphere is often prioritized over effectiveness. So, if the freedom to speak out about what you think is important to you, the startup culture might be the place to go.


Focus On Quick Results

The focus on productivity and sales also has a dark side. Namely, in a startup, you need to prove your worth every single day. The owners of the company are entrepreneurs—they are down-to-earth and practical. They will look at your results and assess the direct influence of these results on their business. And, they will value your opinion based on that influence. If you theorize, pay attention to every detail, and focus too much on making the perfect product rather than concentrating on shrinking the time to market to the minimum, the startup’s owners might treat this as counterproductive and detrimental to the company. Therefore, if you are a perfectionist, think twice before you apply to work in a startup.

Many professionals have a hard time adapting to the culture in which you often need to push a half-baked product out to the market and start selling as soon as you can—even when you know that the quality is way below what you would be happy with. In the startup culture, there is even a saying, “If you were not ashamed with your product on the day of the market launch, it means that you lingered for way too long.” So, startups often sell a beta-version of the product, improve according to their clients’ complaints, and then bootstrap, i.e., improve the product using the funds acquired from the initial sales. This practice is called a lean startup (Ries, 2011).

Possibly, a Bad Paycheck—Or, No Paycheck at All

In many countries, startups pay lower than established companies. They usually try to compensate for this low pay by giving away share certificates to employees (as mentioned before). It happens especially often in the new, budding branches of industry where most new projects struggle with the cash flow and getting investors on board.

You need to watch out here. Many startups are in such a survival mode and are so short in cash, that they will try to convince you to work for shares only. Or, if you are a salesperson, for the commissions only. Or, if you are a fresh university graduate, they’ll try to get you for an unpaid internship. Remember that you should never accept such conditions! The risk is just too high. 

Plus, if the startup owners need to hire people even before they ever manage to get their first profits or land their first investment, it is probably a sign that they have a dysfunctional business plan, that they are bad business developers, and that the startup will fail anyway. 

You also need to watch out and try to avoid working for so-called “serial entrepreneurs.” These are the people with a long history of creating startups, yet, each one of them failed for some reason—and each of these projects was in a different area of the market. For job candidates who are fresh in the startup space, packed LinkedIn profiles of serial entrepreneurs look impressive. Therefore, they often fall into a trap and decide to work for such a person. 

But hey, why did a serial entrepreneur fail so many times, and why did they change the scope of their business on every occasion? It might be a sign that they are not experts in any area—just hustle around trying to build any random projects. And as soon as they get bankrupt, piss off enough clients with poor service, or make too many foes with other business owners in the space, they need to change the market area and start anew. 

Therefore, before you decide to work for a startup owner, investigate their LinkedIn profile in every detail. As a rule of thumb, it is a good sign if they were consequent and kept on building businesses and projects in the same space for many, many years. It means that they are experts in the subject matter, that they are building a strong network of contacts in their field, and that every future project will be better and more successful than the previous one. 


Since the startup team is so small, you will need to work closely with your direct boss and your colleagues. What does it mean in practice? Well, if you do not click with your boss or any of your teammates, there will be no room in the company to shift you around to another team. In that case, you either have to take the pain on your chest and learn how to accept work with those people, or you will effectively need to change your job.


In a startup, you need to synchronize your actions with your colleagues. E.g., if your colleagues are going on vacation, you often have to take over part of their job. Since the team is small, it is often the case that if one person on the team is away, the company operations are in danger of freezing—unless someone else will take over their duties for the time being.

Therefore, you need to be flexible, and often, take one for the team: stop your work, and take over someone else’s responsibilities when they are away. Or, even do both at a time. No need to say that it can be distracting and frustrating. It might also happen that you need to plan and book your vacations a long time ahead to make sure that you will be allowed to leave your workstation at the point.

External Risk Incorporated

As mentioned before, the whole company is in an almost constant jeopardy of sinking on the market—at least for the first few years. It means that you might suddenly lose your job. A startup can get wrecked for many external, unpredictable reasons that are out of anyone’s control: losing the cash flow, bad timing, a competitive project that takes over the market, sudden strategic disagreement between the founders, unpredictable event such as a pandemic, etc. 

For this reason, even if you are the best, the most dedicated employee, and the world-class expert at what you do, you  can suddenly end up on the street together with all your colleagues.

Not Your Dream

By working in a startup, you work on fulfilling someone else’s dream. Of course, the founders will make effort to make you believe that you share their vision. Well, in fact, even if you receive some company shares, it is still a small portion of the cake, while the vast majority and the voting power stays on the founders’ and investors’ side. Therefore, while contributing to building the company, you are effectively making someone else rich. If the startup will grow and get sold at some point, all the major shareholders will become millionaires, while you will end up with some little bonus—even though you were with the company from the beginning. 

Moreover, most startup founders deliberately choose to hire professionals who are better experts than them. Therefore, you might discover that you are more hard-working, more qualified, and more competent than your boss. Yet still, that person will eventually get rich, not you. Well, for some professional this thought is a deal-breaker, while for others it is not.

You Might Change Your Employer Without… Changing Your Employer

Startups typically function in a competitive environment in which the biggest player wins, becomes a whale, and devours all the plankton. Therefore, most startups develop an exit plan from the very start. They won’t even get funded by investors if they don’t have a vision at which stage they are planning to look for a buyer!

Therefore, it might happen that one day, the whole company changes the owners and gets integrated into a larger company. There are new top dogs and new rules of the game, which you might enjoy less than before. Restructuring the company is also often associated with reducing the headcount—the new owners aim to avoid duplicating the expertise and duties between their original workers and their new employees. Therefore, if you are unlucky, you might also lose your job on that occasion.

Your Daily Life Can Massively Change In the Process

…And even if the company is not sold at any point, your working life will change in the process. As mentioned before, every startup aims to grow. In principle, it means that a cozy little team you are working for can become a corporation one day. You might join a startup of 20 people and wake up in a 1000+ corporation several years later. And, your life will massively change in the process.

Usually, once the team exceeds 20 people, the first corporate structures start forming. With the further growth of the company, the percentage of managers and administration within the company will gradually grow while the percentage of specialists will drop. The atmosphere in the team will slowly morph from casual to more formal. There will be more and more procedures and regulations to follow, and more and more forms to fill in on daily basis. 

In the process, you might discover that you do not enjoy this cultural change—not for a bit. For this reason, startup employees often decide to leave at the point when first corporate structures appear.


Many new startup employees experience a mental dip a few months after joining a startup. Why? Well, right after they join the team, they feel dope. It feels almost like a real honeymoon! However, after some time, their initial enthusiasm fades away, and they fall into a depression. 

The main reason is that many startup owners are experienced salespeople who oversell their companies to the job candidates at the interviews. They pitch themselves as oriented at the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In other words, they picture their projects as highly ethical, created with the fate of humanity at heart, and almost charity-like. They know how to lure a new person—especially if the candidate is young and idealistic. So, at the job interview, they will focus on telling you the story of their passion, explaining the societal problem that they are solving, telling you about the team that they have built, and praising the team spirit in the company. 

Today, many people are thirsty for projects that are good for society—especially if they have spent many years in corporate environments where they had to meet strict financial targets every year. Therefore, they quickly fall for these stories. Then, after a few months of hard work, they discover that the startup owners are, in fact, aggressive capitalists who fully focus on the profits. And, that the focus on the environment- or society-friendly projects is the image they created to motivate you to work for them even harder, and/or to get public subsidies for the company. 

The best advice here is to be realistic. It’s just better to mentally prepare that every project developed within a private company will be commercial to a certain  extent. And, that the company revenue will always be in the picture, regardless of what the company owners will tell you at first.

Peer Pressure

Even though the company owners aim to create an atmosphere of brotherhood and encourage employees to treat each other as partners, you will also bump into rats obsessed with building their careers here. Many professionals who have prior working experience with both corporations and startups declare that—against all the stereotypes—they met more career-oriented people in startups than in corporations. 

The overall tension and peer pressure are also higher in startups, because virtually every employee is a specialist, and everyone contributes. Your results are explicit and directly comparable with other employees’ results. For instance, if you code ten times slower than other employees in your team, it won’t go unnoticed.

It can feel a bit like a travel back in time to the times of high school. Back then, you used to get the same tests as your classmates—and every single time, you prayed that you wouldn’t come last on the classroom leaderboard. Now, once you work in a startup, you don’t want to feel like an underachiever either. So, you struggle to be at least an average performer in your team. And since all your teammates have the same fears, the peer competition naturally emerges. 

On the contrary, in corporations there are lots of employees around who are “just talking heads”: attend meetings, sort out logistics, instruct other employees, write reports, drink coffee with everyone, take care of other employees’ agenda and well-being. In such a working environment, you can feel special as a specialist from the get-go, even if you work in a team full of specialists. Thus, the amount of perceived pressure is much lower in corporations as compared to startups.

Not As Flat As It Seems at First Glance

As mentioned before, those who joined the startup early on—the founders, the members of the core team, and the first employees—have the majority share and the voting power within the company. 

Moreover, they are also trusted just because of their long involvement in building the company. These people are respected for what they say and can decide about the course of the company. Even if they know less than you about the subject-matter of the project, they will still decide whether or not your recommendations for the project will be applied. 

This informal structure typically invisible when the startup is still a micro-company (e.g., ten employees) but it becomes explicit when the company grows to 30-100 people. Many fresh startup employees get frustrated after making a discovery that the structure of the company is some form of oligarchy (often referred to as a “clique”). They meet with a ceiling: regardless of how competent and productive they are, they just can’t get promoted and get any decisional power—as all the important stools are already taken.

Subjective Way of Assessing Your Performance and Awarding Bonuses

Just as in other types of private companies, many startups perform the annual assessment of all their employees’ performance that concludes with a grade—and possibly, also a personal bonus. It is not a rule here, though. Many startup owners use flat bonus structure as a way to create the image of equality within the company. 

Therefore, they give away equal (e.g., end-of-the-year) bonuses to all employees—regardless of their salaries or performance. And some startup owners honestly admit that they cannot afford any bonuses and arrange a pre-Christmas round of beers in the nearest pub instead. Every startup develops their own rules here.


Startups often announce positions through open social platforms such as LinkedIn and other, more specialistic recruitment platforms. However, for most startup owners, the preferred way of hiring new employees is networking.

The team is still so small and the market situation so uncertain that any mishiring can turn out deadly to the company on this stage. Therefore, for startup owners, it feels much safer to hire candidates whom they have met before. For this reason, they often ask their employees for personal recommendations, and scout for job candidates at events such as conferences, meetups, and hackathons in the field.


As suggested above, the best way to get a startup job is through networking—since startups are small, it usually needs time to develop some trust before the contract is signed. Friends who already work in startups might help you here, or otherwise, you could consider going to meetups and small industry conferences/hackathons in your area. As mentioned before, some startup jobs appear on social media such as LinkedIn.

Most startups search to employ smart, flexible, self-disciplined, and creative people—primarily, specialists and linchpins but not only! The good news is: the person who will be interviewing you for a startup job, will likely also have the power to hire you—and can give up on some of the expectations mentioned in the job offer if you impress them enough at the interview. 

Therefore, if you feel excited about a position that you don’t feel you are fully qualified for (given the official list of requirements), you have a much better chance to land the contract if the position is offered by a startup rather than a corporation. It is also a reason why it is important to be authentic and show your personality at the interview for a startup job! Let the recruiter like you as a professional, but also as a person—and they might get an irresistible feeling that they want to work with you! 

So, can you expect the recruitment process to look similar as in the established companies? Not necessarily. Firstly, if the company owner gets to know you, they might create a position for you. In that way, you might leapfrog the whole recruitment process and get a contract without a formal application. 

If you, however, take part in a “regular” recruitment process by responding to an offer announced online, the basic elements of the recruitment process will be standard: you will need to deliver a resume and a letter explaining your motivation. And, then, show up at the interview if you pass the preselection steps. 

Mind that in small startups, job candidates are typically interviewed by the  company owners who have no formal training in recruitment. Therefore, the questions you might hear at the interview might also differ from standards in the recruitment industry. As an example, many owners of budding IT companies are fans of the Bay Area culture of entrepreneurship based on taking risks and pulling off creative, edgy, bold ideas out-of-the-box. 

Therefore, instead of asking about your internal motivation, personality, and working style and trying to figure if you would fit the team, they will focus on giving you “Google-style” riddles, aiming to assess if you are a geeky genius that they might discover and make money on. As a matter of fact every startup owner will have their own style of hiring people, but at the end of the day, they will hire you only if you get to enjoy your accompany—as they will need to closely work with you.



If you ask someone at a party about their job, and they say, “We do this, we do that… Our product… Our vision…”—and the “we” and “our” keywords come back in every sentence—this might be a sign that they work for a startup. In the startup culture, a team is supposed to be like a fist, and people naturally identify themselves as members of the group. 


Early phase startups always balance on the edge. Therefore, every little success is cheered as an occasion to unload the stressful atmosphere. A new client? A good reason for a party. A new employee? A good reason for a party. A visit from a business partner? A good reason for a party. A new fern tree in the office? Why not party!

Positivity Matters

Since, as mentioned above, early phase startups are in constant trouble, it is essential to keep a positive atmosphere in the team. Complaining and crying over yourself are not welcome. And, people who have average competencies but are optimistic by nature, display a good sense of humor, and can lift the mood of other people around them, are often more successful and get further in the startup culture than grumpy geniuses.

Playing It Cool

For the same reason, namely because of balancing on the edge, for a startup, image is everything. If a client or an investor is knocking at the door, everyone needs to immediately put themselves together and pretend that they are the most successful startup on planet Earth. Even if five minutes before the visit you had a major argument in the team, you exchanged a few punches, and you almost said, “Goodbye!” to each other, you still need to smile and play it cool. 

It can feel a bit like a trip back in time to the times of primary school—when the teacher suddenly walks into the room, and so you jump towards your desk in panic, hide your toys, stretch your shirt, put together your hair, grin, and pretend that all the mayhem going on in the class just a few seconds ago has never happened.

And that’s how entrepreneurs are. No matter how bad the financial situation is, and no matter how little sleep they got over the past few days, your bosses will instantly jump on their feet and play it cool whenever the situation requires. It is a sort of a game—and if you work in a startup, you better learn to play this game along with everyone else.