For the last couple of months I’ve been plagued with wondering if I should stay at my current startup. I’ve been approached with a few different job offers that I haven’t followed up on, and maybe it’s time I pursued greener pastures. In the words of the Clash: should I stay or should I go now?
Changing jobs is a big, life altering decision and if you have my knack for risk avoidment it can be a horrendous see-saw of uncertainty. It’s this state of uncertainty that is ultimately the cause of the most unhappiness in your life. Leaving your options open is always less satisfactory than making a firm decision.
When comparing offers from other companies, you need to compare the full package which is a lot harder than it looks.
- Health benefits / Health insurance
- Overtime compensation
- Pension plans / Pension matching
- Stock purchase plans / Stock discount
- Stock options / equity
- Travel allowance / food allowance
In particular it’s very hard to figure out what stock options are worth, if anything. The best advice I’ve read is that your stock options aren’t worth considering in any compensation comparison unless you are a founder.
This wiki page does a very good job of explaining how any employee can figure out what their pre-IPO equity is worth. What’s most important is to figure out the percentage of total options and how much funding the options are worth. Don’t forget to include capital gains tax (eg: 40%) when figuring out how much those options are worth.
When will the startup be profitable? How much money has been invested in the company? How much more funding is needed until the startup can stand on its own legs? The more you can find out about this, the better off you’ll be, because you can’t accurately evaluate your monetary compensation and the future of the company without it.
At my previous job I was making more money than I am now, plus there was an average of a 5-8% raise per year. Startups often have no salary increases until they are profitable, or at least have revenue on the books. When you look at the roadmap to profitability you need to factor this in so you can evaluate if the potential payoff if the startup does well comes close to matching the potential revenue lost working at another company.
Most startups fail. The most likely outcome of working at a startup is showing up to work one day and finding the doors locked. There may be no compensation package for the newly unemployed workers until they land another job. Waiting for a golden handshake from downsizing is a worse idea than acting on an opportunity that has presented itself at a different company.
Startups cut corners. You may not have the best tools available to get the job done. You are always squeezed for time and money, which means quality suffers. Poor quality can throw a monkey wrench into schedules, forcing crunch time in order to meet the delivery dates. This technical debt is just like any other debt in that it requires interest payments and you’ll have to pay it off eventually — although project managers often ignore it completely. Steve McConnell covers technical debt in more detail.
Signs of Success
Success should happen early. If things are always running smoothly then the work environment will be enriching and enjoyable. If things never work properly the first time then it can create a big cloud of doom that hangs over the head of everyone in the company and curses the new work being done.
How are employees reinforced for good work? In a startup, it usually won’t be monetary but that’s ok because one of the best rewards is the time to work on pet projects. Interesting work is its own reward.
Monetary compensation might pay off the bills, but it won’t make you feel as satisfied as a job well done. What makes me happiest is learning/improving new skills and knowing that I’ve done a good job. Having to constantly return to the same project that never works properly is one of the most soul-sucking experiences I’ve ever had. It’s like a bad relationship that drags on and on. You’re trying to make things work, but there’s always something new that comes up and drags you back into old issues that you thought were worked out a long time ago.
“Will I enjoy the work?” is the one of the most important criteria for evaluating a job change, because passion can’t be faked and it’s the only way a job will enrich the rest of your life.
Jeff hit the nail so squarely on the head when he said that the most accurate predictor of job satisfaction and success is if you like the people you work with. No matter what the problem is, it’s a people problem and if you don’t enjoy working with your coworkers then you’ll never enjoy your job.
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RSS feeds are like cookies (that are good enough for me). Best of Feeds is a weekly collection of the best stuff I saw on the Internet this week. They’re saved on delicious and stumbleupon and cross-posted to Twitter and Tumblr as they happen and then collected together on Saturdays. I don’t blog on the weekend so read these links instead.Subscribe to //engtech to see this every week (or get it by email).
- [MOVIES] Top 50 Dystopian Movies of All Time
- about 8 on there I haven’t seen yet
- (snarkerati.com 1227 100 2012)
- [CODE] The Future of Software Development
- Very fluffy discussion of waterfall vs agile with the hypothesis that small teams are the future.
- (readwriteweb.com 617 54 734)
- [DESIGN] Top 100 User-Centered Blogs
- centered around the user experience
- (virtualhosting.com 558 72 45)
- [HIRING] 100 Resources to Attract, Retain and Utilize Rock Star Programmers
- Great list of resources for hiring programmers
- (hrworld.com 343 16 109)
- [RUBY] 10 Reasons to Learn Ruby
- I’m drinking the koolaid.
- (cyberarmy.net 342 17 1028)
- [RAILS] Zero to Riding the Rails in Four Months
- Experience getting started with a Rails app.
- (hackd.wordpress.com 301 17 3)
- [BLOGGING] Top bloggers reveal how to build traffic off-blog without spending a dime
- Guest posting and building relationships are the top two ways.
- (jonathanfields.com 269 27 708)
- [SOCIAL] NOSO
- Online web app that is focused on getting people off of their computers and interacting in meatspace.
- (nosoproject.com 227 100 6)
- [GTD] Top 10 Distraction Stoppers
- They included my “distraction free gtd” web app pack
- (lifehacker.com 100 20 22)
- [GAMERS] I Played Through Episode Two Holding A Goddamn Gnome (Spoilers)
- From the article: ” Who watches the watchers? The gnome does. He watches everyone, unblinkingly.”
- (kfj.f2s.com 83 35 2946)
- [CODE] Free Programming Tips are Worth Every Penny.
- I think I’m developing a blog crush.
- (wilshipley.com 66 19 24)
- [DESIGN] What about research, interviews, and documentation?
- Throw it at the wall and see what sticks. Good advice.
- (37signals.com 33 3 5)
- [WORKHACKS] Remember, This Stuff Is Supposed To Be Fun
- Work should be something that you enjoy.
- (codinghorror.com 28 15 15)
- [SEO] What if Google had to design for Google?
- What the Google homepage would look like if they had to design for SEO.
- (meangene.com 24 28)
- [STARTUPS] ‘Un-sexy is good business,’ and other rules from Scott Rafer
- MyBlogLog founder on how to survive the market bust that’s coming in 5 months.
- (foundread.com 23 9)
- [HALLOWEEN] Animal Halloween Costumes
- Impressive number of Star Wars costumes.
- (nynerd.com 11 6 10)
- [BLOGGING] The First Month: Building Something From Nothing
- Skellie’s building traffic from nothing guide. Great tips in there, must read for beginner/intermediates.
- (skelliewag.org 8 3 3)
- [SMO] Targeting StumbleUpon Users
- How to build a stumbleupon community
- (dailyblogtips.com 7 7)
- [IPHONE] Video Game Ideas: iPhone SDK edition
- A ton of ideas for iPhone games. Really cool stuff.
- (wilshipley.com 7 8)
- [COMICS] Missing!
- The disappearance of Calvin and Hobbs
- (clevescene.com 5 4)
- [OCD] On Being Crazy
- From the article: ” Then I’ll have a week so dark that simply taking mail out of the mailbox seems like an epic struggle. And I remember, oh yes, right, you aren’t going away. Because you’re my brain. You’re my chemistry. You’re me.”
- (wilshipley.com 2 7)
- [STARTUPS] The Wheels on the Bus
- Why buying a bus ticket and hanging out with REAL PEOPLE might be the best thing for your startup idea. And it’s true — normal people don’t have nearly the same problems I try to fix in my own life.
- (ricksegal.typepad.com 2 2)
- [FACEBOOK] Inner Circle App
- Facebook application that lets you build custom groups of friends.
- (facebook.com 2)
- [GOOGLE] Ad Blindness? How About Ad Repulsion?
- Interesting.. make the real content look like AdSense and it becomes immediately repulsive.
- (franticindustries.com 2)
- [OPENID] Automattic,Gravatar, and the Elusive Unified Identity
- Automattic is making a move to providing single-sign-on using your wordpress.com IDs. Good business idea, but still scary considering I managed to lock myself out of sites using because of my wordpress.com openID.
- [FACEBOOK] Google scared of Facebook? Puh-leeze
- Matt skewers business 2.0 :)
- [PATENTS] Amazon patent foiled by lone gunman
- That’s awesome.
- [MICROSOFT] Ballmer to Web 2.0 Execs: You Have a Pulse? We’ll Give You At Least $50 Million For It.
- developers, developers, developers. Ballmer is such an idiot.
- [REDDIT] the reddit toolbar: taking social news one step closer
- Hidden setting on reddit that puts a toolbar on outgoing links… very useful for voting without using the bookmarklet.
- [GEEK] Star Trek Cast
This Week at Internet Duct Tape
- How I Use Google Reader
- “How I Use” is a new series I’m starting about the software I use on a day-to-day basis. I want share tips and tricks and to learn tips and tricks from readers sharing with me in the comments. Google Reader is a web-based RSS reader. Because it’s web-based I can access my Google…
- The Attention Age: Accelerando, Software Agents, Filters and Gatekeepers
- Last night I finished reading Accelerando by Charles Stross. Like many of the books I read these days, I heard about it from another blogger. It feels like a spiritual sequel to Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock, John Brunner’s the Shockwave Rider and Warren Ellis’ Transmetropolitan. It is…
- Blog Action Day: Save Paper when Readers Print Your Blog
- Today is Blog Action Day with a focus on the environment and I’m going to teach a quick CSS trick for how to save paper by reducing what gets printed when someone prints an article from your blog.
- Coworkers Considered Harmful
- I hit a realization this weekend that I’ve hit many times before. There’s an inordinate number of times when I’m in the office late not because of my own time management failures but because of the people I work with.
This Week at IDT Labs
- [WORDPRESS] Extract Comments or Trackbacks only from the Comments Feed
- I’ve created two Yahoo Pipes for building filters of the comments feed on your WordPress blog so that you can see comments only or trackbacks only.
- [RSS] Tagosphere
- Tagosphere is an example I created for Jon Udell that builds an RSS feed around a specific tag using delicious, flickr, technorati, and wordpress.com.