How To Pick The Best Startup To Work For

As a salesperson, you’re in high demand. Startups are also hot right now with more of them reaching unicorn status (the coveted billion dollar valuation mark) faster than ever. And successful salespeople are like unicorns themselves.

If you’re lucky – and good – enough to be deciding between multiple job offers, how do you pick which company is right for you? Never fear, my data-driven guide on how to pick the best startup to work for is here.

Let’s take a look at some data to find the best sales job at a startup for you.

Successful startups are not-so-risk taking

Research shows that employees at startups share one trait in common: They are more risk taking. Founders of startups however? A study by Professors Raffiee and Feng found that entrepreneurs who keep their day jobs and work part-time at their new startup – what they call “hybrid entrepreneurship” – decrease their risk of failure by 30%.

successful startups aren't as risk taking as you think

This calculated risk taking provides a valuable learning opportunity for founders to be more objective about the feasibility of their new business and whether they’re actually cut out for it.

Other research has found that startups with multiple founders and founders with more education are more likely to survive. So contrary to the risk taking, “school is for suckers” stereotype of successful startup founders, it looks like hedging your bets is what actually pays off.

Successful startups don’t mix business with pleasure

If having multiple founders increases a startup’s chances of success, what type of people should these founders be?

Well, there seemdon't start a startup with your friendss to be some truth to the saying “never work with your friends“: Harvard Business School Professor Wasserman’s research found the least stable startup founders were made up of friends. Friends are less likely to acknowledge each other’s weaknesses and mistakes, hurting the company along the way, and each friendship in a founding team increases the chance of a founder leaving by 29%.

The most stable startup founding teams? Past coworkers. These are the people with whom you’ve already collaborated on projects, gained an understanding of each other’s work habits, and learned how to productively handle disagreements at work.

Successful startups know culture eats perks for breakfast

Culture doesn’t equal perks. I repeat, culture doesn’t equal perks. So if culture isn’t ping pong and Beer Fridays, what is it? HubSpot defines culture as a set of shared beliefs, values, and practices. These values become translated into behaviors an organization encourages, discourages, and rewards.

startups love ping pong

Culture matters because it’s what people are referring to when they talk about hiring for fit. Fit is the compatibility between a person’s personality and values and an organization’s culture.

Research has found that employees who feel that they fit in well with their company culture are more satisfied, more committed, and less likely to quit.

Successful startups know when perks do matter

The most common perks at a startup include health benefits, flexible hours, bonuses, and equity. A recent study found that offering perks during the viability stage of a startup (1 year after its founding) decreased its chance of survival, whereas offering perks during the growth stage (5 years after a startup’s founding) increased its chance of survival.

perks increase a chance of a startup's survival in the growth stage

So smart startups know how to prioritize their resources in order to increase their chances of success.

The bottom line

If you’re deciding between multiple great job offers and you want to maximize your odds of working for a startup that succeeds, you’ll be smart to scrutinize who the founders are, understand when you should be willing to forego perks, and how to assess whether you’ll fit into a company’s culture.

How do you decide between multiple job offers? Let me know in the comments or tweet @ideal.

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Ji-A Min

Ji-A Min

Head Data Scientist at Ideal
Ji-A Min is the Head Data Scientist at Ideal. With a Master’s in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Ji-A promotes best practices in data-based recruitment. She writes about research and trends in talent acquisition, recruitment tech, and people analytics.
Ji-A Min