Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Guy Kawasaki’s 10 Questions to Ask Before You Join a Startup

Guy Kawasaki’s 10 Questions to Ask Before You Join a Startup | MintLife | Personal Finance News & Advice
  1. How much money do you have in the bank?
  2. What is your net outflow per month?
  3. What is the post-money valuation of your last round?
  4. What can you do that your competitors cannot?
  5. What can your competitors do that you cannot?
  6. Who are your investors?
  7. Who is on your board of directors?
  8. Has anyone in the engineering team actually shipped a product?
  9. Assume that you have $0 for marketing, how would you market the product?
  10. What keeps you awake at night?

Excellent list of questions. From my personal experience, I think it's also a wise move to ask a few more questions too. "11. What role do you see me playing in your company?". This is way different from the title. Never assume that your title alone will give you leverage to succeed in a startup, especially if you are leaving behind a fast track career in a large, well structured company. And never, ever play the 10% game when negotiating salary joining a startup.There are so many other factors that come into play. You see, startups are usually run by people who are brilliant technically but way less so in business maturity. If you think your Resume and track record will automatically get you your worth, you might be in for a surprise. Their approach for management and HR development may be at best Laissez-faire. So your first impression might very well depend on how much you demand up front. Play the 10% game and you will be screwed. Because not only will you look inferior in the eyes of those people, but also your credibility and career progression at this place will now have a shaky foundation.

So when they ask "How much?" reply with question 12. "How much do you think I'm worth? I'm not at liberty to discuss my present salary. Make an offer and let's talk!". Starting a dialogue instead of readily divulging personal information will save you a lot of grief in the long run. Because eventually you'll see this missed opportunity and it will take a huge effort to correct it, if at all possible. You might love your new work, but always remember that starting your career from scratch is not the objective when leaving for a startup.