A cautionary tale

I attended my first StartupCamp this evening.

Even better, I was asked by someone I’d only ever “met” or interacted with on Twitter to be on a 20×2-style panel tasked with answering a question I only saw an hour before the event was scheduled to start: Why start a startup?

Cuz, y’know, I’ve spent the last four or five years working at insurance companies, I’ve never started a company, or any entrepreneurial venture, and I don’t really have any intentions of doing so.

So I decide to resort to cheap literary tricks: irony! I offered reasons why you shouldn’t start a startup. And I will share some of these gems with you… (I know, it’s kinda cheesy and hardly original, and I do have a real answer, but I only had two minutes and it would take rather longer to explain. Maybe I’ll blog it some time.)

Oh, and these are all ripped from the headlines, as they say (or my work experience, at least).

  • If you want a job title and description so similar to everyone else’s that merit is determined by giving you a Roman numeral at the end of it…
  • If your idea of a modern, dynamic office space is grey cube walls by the thousands…
  • If you don’t mind co-workers and management who you will begin to forget the moment you walk out the door for the last time (or, possibly, before)…
  • If you work with people who have worked at the company so long they make a point of checking internal obituary listings every day…
  • You like being asked to buy chocolate bars, Tupperware, candles, prepared meats, magazine subscriptions, raffle tickets, and all other manner of stuff every day, sometimes more than once…
  • If you like working on 18-month project cycles which, when they go live, absolutely no one will notice…
  • If you like spendings evenings and long weekends testing things like automated phone systems (“For English, press 1…”)…
  • If you like having a manager who’s been in his/her job longer than you’ve been alive…
  • If you like working with people who don’t believe your dot-com stories because their work environment hasn’t changed since 1982…
  • If you like working in buildings so big that people have vanished forever when attempting to find a specific meeting room…
  • If you don’t see a problem with the fact that your company’s 1.0 product came out in 1865…

you shouldn’t start (or work for) a startup.

Scared yet? 🙂

2 Replies to “A cautionary tale”

  1. Hahahaaaa! Oh, the memories this evoked. So many people I worked with in government had been there for 25 years. We always used to joke at their 25 years of service parties “You get less time for murder!” And then we’d all feel a little sad…

  2. If I’ve posted this before, I apologize, but I thought I’d invite you to the Waterloo-Wellington Blogstravaganza at the Huether Hotel on Saturday, June 14 at 5:30 p.m. More details are available at my blog.

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