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To say that the startup scene is up and coming would be a gross understatement; 660,000 startups registered in the UK in 2018 alone. That’s a 5.7% increase on the year before - and a number that is still exponentially growing.
In the Orthopaedics sector in particular, the number of startups has skyrocketed. From those developing new augmented reality technologies for use in surgeries, to those bringing 3D printed implants to patients, innovators are taking to the mass market with new, niche technologies - and receiving millions of dollars in investment in the process.
But in the same conversation, the bleak reality of startup failure rates is always quick to follow. That and the lower salaries, the heavier workload and the often irregular working hours.
So is a startup really the right move for you?
The saying “you wear all of the hats” is very telling of a startup experience. A smaller workforce means rolling up your sleeves and embracing every new challenge - and not always with the necessary breadth of experience behind you.
Whilst challenging, this is a great way to gain exposure to, and experience within, new areas of the business. You’ll have the chance to take on more responsibilities, most likely out of your comfort zone, and the potential for personal growth within that is unrivalled.
That means more opportunities too: for career progression, for a transition into a different discipline within the business and for leading a team of your own within it.
The lack of formal structure can be a major selling point for joining a startup, with the need for entrepreneurial qualities extending far beyond the CEO. Without the protocol and set practices of a long-standing corporation, how you schedule your work day and the tasks you set yourself to reach your targets are in your own hands.
It also means moulding to the greater needs of the business. The projects you manage and the types of strategy you carry out will all take lead from the success of the business as a whole.
Arguably the least glamorous aspect of a startup, so one worth considering: startups don’t have much back-up when something goes wrong, so you’ll need to be on hand to assist whenever and whenever problems occur.
Anyone considering a move to a startup - especially in a leadership capacity - needs to prepare themselves for a more unpredictable work routine. Being agile enough to respond and rise to that is crucial.
Even with the backing of investment, the financial side of startups is often a major sticking point. Profits are low and, with that, staff salaries too - that’s even with the longer hours and increased responsibilities.
There are financial positives though with the potential to make much more in the long run. You are a major stakeholder, and if the startup succeeds (whether it’s acquired, becomes an IPO or undergoes hyper-growth) you are in an enviable position and will likely take on a very senior role in the larger firm.
Stock ownership can go a long way at a startup too. As you’re working for the business you have early bird advantages, with lower stock rates for a higher percentage of the company due to higher risk.
It goes without saying that there’s more at stake working in a startup, but that only goes to motivate the people best suited for this environment.
You’ll have the chance to make an impact from day one, as everyone’s voice is heard in a smaller company. Key decisions are not just left to the CEO or the board of directors but made by all senior staff members, so you’ll need to be a confident leader, ready to take on the pressure and take the reins in leading the business in any new challenge.
Whether it be for the thrill of the risk or the want for new challenges, the startup environment can pose as an exciting opportunity for job seekers across all levels - and the chance to refresh from the corporate world in a wholly different environment.
It takes the right kind of person to adapt to the late nights and the extra pressure, but if you’re willing to rise to that the payoff can be huge, not only financially but personally and professionally: pushing through your comfort zone and taking your career to new heights.
Even if that startup doesn’t become the next billion-dollar enterprise, the broader experience you gain will pay dividends your whole career.
CSG’s Life Sciences division work with international startups across the Orthopaedic industry. We help senior-level candidates move on from the corporate world and rise to a new kind of challenge, making a significant impact in early startup businesses. If you are someone considering joining a startup and would like our help - whether that be a complete career move or just general advice - please don’t hesitate to get in touch for a confidential chat: firstname.lastname@example.org / +44 (0) 333 323 2000.
Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, The Anatomy of an Entrepreneur, 07.09.09
City A.M., London drives increase in number of new UK startups, 14.01.19
Fast Company, Why Most Venture-Backed Companies Fail, 12.10.12
Ortho Streams, 7 benefits of working at a startup
Ortho Streams, How to Predict a Successful Startup