You sure you want to work for a startup?

Meet Yong Zhao, the CEO of Junzi Kitchen.  Yong was looking for a CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) and had some challenges finding an employee who would fit well into his company’s startup culture.  Below is an excerpt from an interview with Yong, explaining his frustrations when looking for viable candidates:

 “Everyone thinks that working for a startup means they’re working for the next Facebook.  They don’t realize that the ratio of wins to losses for new companies is not that great.  You really work for a startup because you love the life, not because you are going to be rich.  This means you have to be passionate about the company’s vision and have confidence in its future.  Plus you need a “can do” attitude, because each employee is a key contributor.  You need to bring a specific talent to the company and have the capabilities, determination, and energy to make it happen – on your own.  In a startup, no one is “on top of you”.  The CEO is not the boss – he/ she supports everyone and their projects, ensuring they are in synch.   It’s not a culture for everyone, which is my biggest fear.  We spend a lot of time screening candidates, but sometimes our hires join the team because of the glamor of what could be.  Then the reality hits them, and they end up getting stressed or quitting soon after they start.  That’s not a good investment of time or energy for anyone.  We want to know that our new hires are passionate about what we do and have the ability to directly contribute and grow with us, so that eventually we will become a big company with big salaries.”

 If you are truly passionate about working for a startup, here’s some advice from Yong on how to interview, so that you increase your odds of being hired:

  • Really love the company vision and be able to prove it
  • Prepare a plan on how you would uniquely “hit the ground running”
    (Yes, it may be free work that could be used by someone else, but it shows
    that you are committed, gives you something specific to talk about,
    and provides you with an advantage)
  • Write some probing questions to understand the company culture
    (If you are serious, you really want to make sure you share the same value sets)
  • Be honest with yourself about your ability to compromise salary requirements

Working for a startup is not easy, but it can be extremely rewarding and a lot of fun.  Just make sure that you love what you’re doing.  That will help you weather all of the challenges that are inevitable in any type of business.

ABOUT JUNZI KITCHEN:  Junzi Kitchen, Junzi.Kitchen, brings healthy, authentic Chinese food to America by making chun-bings, special wraps prepared to celebrate the first crops of spring, This simple and delicious food, made with nutritious and fresh ingredients from local markets and gardens, is cooked without losing natural flavor and texture, just the way Mom used to make it.

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