8 Questions to Ask Before Joining a Startup
What are the important questions you should ask before joining a startup? In this article, we will explore some of the most insightful questions you should ask before joining a startup.
Why is this important?
Well, if you want to know more about a company before you join them, it will be helpful for you to ask some questions. These questions also help you to avoid wasting time and energy in a company where you find you do not belong.
1. Job-Specific Questions
You should inquire about the specific role and opportunity, asking questions like the following (tailored to your situation):
- What are the responsibilities of the position?
- What is the title of the role (Senior Manager? Software Engineer? Customer Support Assistant?)
- What is the company culture like?
- What is the work from home policy?
- What is the paid time off (PTO)/vacation policy?
- Who will I be reporting to?
- How often will I get a formal review of my performance?
- What happened to the last employee in this role?
- What types of opportunities for advancement will there be?
- How much travel is expected?
- What do you think are the most important qualities to have to succeed in this role?
- Can you tell me more about the team I will be working with?
- What is the No. 1 priority coming into the job?
- What will constitute success in the role?
- When would you want me to start?
2. Compensation and Benefits Questions
Before joining a startup, it is important to understand the compensation, bonus, and benefits that are offered. It is also important to consider the following questions in regards to your specific needs:
- What is the base salary?
- What signing bonus may be available?
- What performance bonus/commissions/additional compensation is available in addition to the base salary?
- What kind of stock option or equity incentive plan does the company have?
- How many options will I be granted? And what percentage of the outstanding capitalization of the company does that represent?
- What is the vesting schedule for any stock options?
- Will there be accelerated vesting of stock options in case the company is sold or there is a termination of employment by the company without good cause (senior executives often negotiate this, but it’s harder to get for lower-level employees)
- What health/medical benefits are available for employees?
- What other benefit plans does the company have? (For example, does it offer a 401(k) program or provide employees with equipment such as cellphones and laptops?)
3. Capitalization and Financial Questions
You will want to understand the company’s financial situation before you consider joining, so here are some questions you should ask yourself. A company with a great culture can still fail if it has financial viability issues.
- How much in venture capital, angel, or other financing has the company raised?
- How much of that funding does the company still have?
- How long will the remaining funding last before the company has to seek another round of financing? (This is, in essence, asking what the company’s “burn rate” is—the amount the company is losing each month, taking into account its revenues and expenses)
- Who are the major investors in the company? (prominent individuals or venture funds certainly will help)
- Will I be able to see the company’s latest investor pitch deck describing the company?
- What is the company’s revenue growth rate?
- What was the valuation of the company at the last round of financing?
- How big is the market opportunity for the company?
- What key traction has the company gotten? (Traction could include increasing revenues, marquee customers, strategic alliances, venture financing rounds, PR, etc.)
4. Company Mission, Vision, and Positioning Questions
When considering joining an organization, it is important for applicants to get a clear understanding of their mission, vision, and plans for growth. It is also beneficial to ask them questions about what the company values and the kinds of projects they are involved with.
- What is the company’s mission and vision?
- What are the company’s plans for growth?
- What are the key milestones for the company to meet in the next year?
- What is your favorite part of working for the company?
- What are the biggest opportunities for the company?
- What are the biggest challenges for the company?
- What is particularly unique about the company?
- Who are the company’s principal competitors?
- Do you see the company ultimately being acquired or going public? When do you think that might happen?
5. Legal Questions
For anyone planning on joining a startup, legal questions such as the following may be appropriate:
- If an employee is terminated without cause, what is the severance policy?
- Is the company involved in any litigation or government/regulatory proceedings?
- Will I be subject to any non-compete or other restrictions after my employment ends? (some states allow non-compete agreements)
What are the qualities you seek in your next job?
There are certain qualities that are essential in a job. These include being a good fit for the company, having the right skills, and being able to work with others.
The qualities that you need to be considered for your next job vary depending on what you want from it. But some of these qualities are:
- Having the ability to work with others
- Being able to handle tough deadlines
- Working well under pressure
- Having good communication skills
What kind of work will be required?
This is another question to ask before joining a startup. If you are an entry-level employee, you should be able to work with your hands and learn the job as you go along.
When you are joining a startup, it is always important to know what kind of work will be required of you. You should be able to perform the tasks that the company needs at that time and not have any trouble adjusting.
If you have experience in a similar field, then it will help in providing an understanding of what the company needs from its employees.
How do you evaluate startups before joining?
Before joining a startup, it is important to evaluate its potential. There are many factors that one should consider when evaluating a startup. Some of the most important ones are the founders, the business model, and the team. If you want to make an informed decision about joining a startup, you need to do your research on what they’re offering and how they plan on achieving their goals.
a). The founders:
Who are the founders? What are their backgrounds? How long have they been working in the field that they’re starting this business in? What sort of experience do they have, and how much is it worth to the company? These questions can be answered by doing a quick Google search. One also needs to inquire about whether or not the founders have worked together before, and what their relationship is like.
b). The business model:
What are the goals of the company? How does it plan on achieving them? What market will be it in? Do they have a product yet that shows how this technology works? If not, wouldn’t it be interesting to see what the team has been working on so far?
c). The Team:
What is the team like? What’s their background? What are they currently working on? What are the goals of the company? How does it plan on achieving them? What market will be it in? Do they have a product yet that shows how this technology works? If not, wouldn’t it be interesting to see what the team has been working on?
How do I know if my startup is worth joining?
There are several factors that you can consider when you decide to join a startup. One of the most important ones is the company’s potential for growth. If you think that the company has a good chance of becoming an industry leader, then it might be worth joining.
Some other factors that you should consider are the size and experience of team members, number of clients and revenue, as well as location and investors. You should also look at how much time it takes for your startup to reach break-even point and how much money they have raised so far.