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Eric Dinger’s 10 reasons to quit your job and work at a startup

Founder Friday is a weekly guest post written by a founder who is based in or hails from the Silicon Prairie. Each month, a topic relevant to startups is presented and founders share lessons learned or best practices utilized on that topic. March’s topic is why you should work for a startup.

About the author: Eric Dinger is co-founder of Lincoln-based hunting grounds app Powderhook.

A startup is a terrifying, ridiculous endeavor. But, for me, it’s been worth it.

Here are 10 reasons why you should quit your job and go work for one, too:

1. Build a lifelong bond

You and your teammates in a startup are going to go through really hard times together. Remember 4th and 1 in high school football? The day your garage band played its first real gig? It’s like that, but in adulthood it’s tougher to come across opportunities to feel those emotions. I went through times like that with Dan, Nate, Megan, Dustin, Kevin and Jared starting my first company, Thought District. Although you may not end up best friends, creating something out of nothing, together, links you to each other in a way you’ll carry forever. 

2. Learn faster than you thought possible

You know that adorable title, “VP of product development”? Here’s what that means in a startup: You’re in charge of building the product, finding new office space, hiring developers, “managing” your team, speaking to college classes, vacuuming the office, going to trade shows, getting chairs for the new guys and serving as HR. Oh, and probably legal, too. Your spouse is probably the defacto test engineer, please let them know. For many it’s overwhelming, for you it’ll be a chance to grow in ways you can’t read about.

3. Job security is boring

In every gig there are career days, work days and job days. Ever come home from work unfulfilled, defeated and crabby? That’s because you had what I call a “job day.” Do you sometimes have days worth of things that suck to do, but just need to get done? That’s a “work day.” Other days I bet you leave work energized by the opportunity to utilize your best talents in the pursuit of a worthwhile goal. That’s a “career day.” In a startup, the lack of structure means you get the opportunity to use as much of your talent as you can bring as often, and for as long, as you can muster the energy to bring it. If you’re passionate about the problem your startup exists to solve, it’ll give you the chance to have almost all career days.

4. Work with passionate people

My favorite people are passionate about something. I truly don’t care what it is and you probably don’t either. Supercharged about injection molding? Awesome! Tell me all about. If you pick the right startup you’ll be surrounded by people who are passionate about what you’re passionate about. Building something alongside those people—that’s cool.

5. Find out what you’re made of

It doesn’t exist now and it’ll only exist if you make it so. You’re going to get very little training, a huge lack of support and enough direction to be fully lost. If you can embrace the ambiguity and still thrive you’ll find that you’re type of person to GSD (get s*** done) as you always thought you could.

6. Be a part of something

This is the old standby for the recruiting entrepreneur: “Get in on the ground floor.” “Have fun and shoot Nerf guns and be a key part of a cool culture.” Blah Blah Blah. The “be a part of something” you should really care about, the part that’s really fun, is when, because of you and your team, you make a difference in someone’s life. You solved their problem with what you created out of your brains and your effort.

7. Own the thing you’re a part of

Startups need people who are more talented than they can afford. That’s cool because most people don’t work for money anyway. Sure, you have to get by, but why not put yourself in a position to financially change the trajectory of your life? The difference between $75,000 and $55,000 means almost nothing in terms of quality of life. $75K guy’s house isn’t that much bigger and his car probably doesn’t do things your car won’t. Help grow a startup you own part of and exit day can give you options you may never have otherwise.

8. Learn the meaning of commitment

No one writes books, or even Tumblr posts, about the guy who job-hopped his way through life. As part of startup life, your kids won’t get as much time, it’ll challenge your marriage and it will cost you several strokes on your golf handicap. The good stuff never comes easy. With a few years at a startup under your belt your desire to see things through and your ability to focus on moving forward will help your marriage, parenting and, well, you were never going to be that great of a golfer anyway.

9. Prepare yourself for the day you start your own thing

My dad has talked for years about starting his own business. He’d be so great at it, but he was never around it as a young man and thus starting a business felt unapproachable. Working at a startup will make it very clear to you that you’re capable of becoming a successful entrepreneur. Over the years, I’ve worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs. They’re just like any other cross-section of people. Some bust their butts, some are lucky, some can’t get a break, some talented, some resourceful. The things you’ll learn will make you ready for your big leap.

10. Learn the meaning of a dollar and a customer

It’s hard to build something people care about enough to pay you for it. That goes for the customers at your current job the same as it goes for customers at a startup. But, when it’s your customer, the person who is using what you built, the thing that took your money and effort to create, you’ll feel differently about them. People deserve to buy from folks who care that much. And, the businesses you work with deserve customers who are empathetic to difficulties of being on either side of the table.


Why do you work for a startup? Tell us your story below!


Credits: Photo courtesy Eric Dinger. 

Author bio: Eric Dinger is co-founder of Lincoln-based hunting grounds app Powderhook. He’s also an outdoorsman, a Christian and a family man. His wife, who knows him best, describes him as “committed.” Previously, Dinger was the founder and CEO of Lincoln-based Thought District, renamed Agent by the new ownership team after Dinger’s exit in 2012. His new venture, Powderhook, is a website built for connecting people looking for hunting/fishing locations with the folks who have them. 

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