You make a regular habit of visiting biotech job boards, just to see what is out there. You have noticed that some of the biotech jobs you run across are at startups. Every now and again, you dream of what it might be like to make your fortune getting in on the ground floor of a new company. Dreams are great. Just promise yourself that you will not jump into the startup pool before doing your research.
A biotech startup might not be your best employment choice. For all the positives they have to offer, startups also bring plenty of negatives to the table. There are enough negatives to cause you to step back and seriously evaluate your career goals. And of course, there is always the risk that comes with the startup territory.
Startups Are Risky Ventures
The people behind the Pharma Diversity job board say it is difficult to know just how many pharmaceutical and biotech jobs exist within the startup environment. They say that startups don’t necessarily post on job boards. But even when they do, the whole premise of a startup is risky.
Startups are considered risky ventures for one primary reason: they spend a ton of money in hopes of getting it back in the future. We are not talking a few thousand dollars here or there. A typical biotech company could spend tens of millions after just the first round of funding. By the time it gets to second and third stage funding, it could be in the hundreds of millions.
The high-risk nature of biotech makes industry startups even more volatile. A new biotech company can fail as suddenly as it was launched. And unfortunately, few biotech startups ever go on to become big operations.
A Lot for a Little
Another curious thing about startups is that they don’t tend to pay well. They ask you to work for a lower-than-average salary combined with shares in the company. For all intents and purposes, they want you to work for equity. It could all work out if the company makes a big-time and your shares end up being worth millions. But how often does that happen?
The typical startup asks for a lot but doesn’t give much back. Are you willing to take that gamble? It is a gamble that could pay off with being returns. But it’s also one that could leave you penniless and heartbroken. There is no way to know just by looking at a post on a job board.
Entrepreneurs Are More Than Welcome
The best way to gauge your suitability as a startup employee is to consider your own entrepreneurial spirit. Entrepreneurs are always welcome in startup circles. If you consider yourself an entrepreneur and are willing to take the risks involved, going to work for a biotech startup might be right up your alley. But if entrepreneurship scares you, stay away.
Even as a salaried employee, working for a startup makes you an entrepreneur. Not having the mind of an entrepreneur suggests you are likely to struggle until your employer is profitable. Make sure you are okay with that before you sign on the dotted line.
If you do decide to take the plunge, be sure you fully understand your employment contract. Get any promise of equity in writing. If you are presented with a contract that you don’t fully understand, do not hesitate to take it to an attorney. The last thing you need is to end your biotech job search with a position that’s too risky for your appetite.