Taking a new job when close to 1st product launch


2

Startup background I'm close to launching my first micropreneur-esque SaaS app (within 2-3 weeks). I've been building this app on the side over the past year or so while working my day job.

Day job background My day job is sort of a re-startup - about 3 years ago, we (3 developers) came into an almost bankrupt company with a new CEO and have helped to rebuild the product along with a relatively stable income. The income is still not covering the company's costs, so we've been getting cash injections from the investors.

Coming in from the outside, things look promising. From the inside, though, the opposite is true. We have lost a Project and Product Manager less than 8 months; my former developer co-worker quit out of frustration. The problems with the inner-workings of the company are numerous, but the big ones would be:

  • the CEO dictates and doesn't really listen. If someone disagrees, that person is essentially removed from any decision-making capacity.
  • no one in a managerial role actually knows how to manage.
  • there is precious little sanity around the SDLC - and the PMs could not institute real policies, hence their departure.
  • we have untrained, green (1 straight out of college, 2 with no real development experience) developers maintaining the current codebase whilst we senior developers work on the next version of the product.
The Decision I was recently approached by a larger company about a senior development position (via StackOverflow careers, no less!). I am excited about what I would be working on at this position (after a day of on-site interviews), and I think I can learn a lot to make me a better developer and, possibly, entreprenuer (whereas I'm kind of stagnating at the current job).

I got the offer yesterday, and it is a nice one. It does, however, involve relocation. I'm not sure the contract length (will ask later today), but 2 years is fairly standard for a full relo.

Not knowing how quickly your startup will grow (or if it will fail miserably), would you take the new position with your ultimate goal still being to become self-sufficient, escaping the hamster wheel? Pros of new job:

  • Less-frustrating/stressful environment (from what I can tell - these guys know how to develop and ship products consistently)
  • Potential to work on and learn new things at the day job
  • Stock options that are worth something (fully vested after 4 years)
  • Better salary (cost of living adjusted) + bonuses (first 2 years) (will eliminate debt and allow some to be socked away) + retirement
  • Working with talented engineers
  • Working with new technologies
  • Sideways mobility (can move to different business concerns)
Cons of new job:
  • My assumptions are untested, though fairly well confirmed by the employees I've talked to as well as Glassdoor
Pros of current job:
  • It's the "evil I know" rather than the "evil I don't know"
  • I'm well-respected
Cons of current job:
  • Frustrating as hell
  • No upward mobility (one tier above me that dictates rather than delegates)
  • Little chance to learn new technologies / solve new and interesting problems
  • I'm the smartest engineer
  • Not completely stable (currently it is - we just got another cash injection)
Cons of moving:
  • Contract for 2 years (assumed - will update)
  • 4 years until fully-vested (I'm 28, for context)
  • Still a day job
  • New city (we have a few friends there, though)

Any input is appreciated. :)

Day Job

asked May 5 '12 at 01:59
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Sarumont
111 points
  • Don't overlook the importance of working with talented, passionate, energized people. Having worked mostly alone for over a year now, I've come to realize just how valuable this can be. – Stephelton 8 years ago

3 Answers


3

This is my keypoint: "Less-frustrating".

Working on a startup is hard enough. But after all it should, no must be fun somehow. What you wriite it is no fun at all. You are 28, but you have no time to waste. Nothing which is frustrating will ever suddenly turn out "good".

When I read your message you sound as this new job is really cool and you really would like to do it.

Why wait? Pimp your life and go back to your startup life with a new idea and a more fun environment.

After all your post sounds to me as this is actually your wish. Listen to your belly. Relax, learn, conquer the startup scene in 2 years again.

answered May 5 '12 at 02:15
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Christian
3,590 points
  • "Less-frustrating" is my key point, too. All else being equal, I'll take less frustration (and hence more efficacy) any day of the week. I have made up my mind I still plan to pursue my startup in the meantime, whichever path I choose. – Sarumont 8 years ago

3

Congrats!

I noticed there are more clearly-defined pros than cons. Such a thinking, especially when the offer solid, can serve as blinders. Specifically, it's easy to get caught in the positive feedback loop of rationalizing all the good that awaits you on the other side. It's usually only after you leave and during the stress of re-adjusting to a new work environment (and new city, especially if you don't know people there) that the benefits of the old job start to come out.

On the other hand, if you can't think of any reasons to stay where you are, then perhaps it's more harmful to both parties to remain there.

Also, the list of pros and cons appear to justify your reason to accept the offer. Perhaps another list to justify staying at your current job might also help? The goal, IMHO, is to be as objective as possible, and that's usually pretty hard to do.

Larger companies don't necessarily provide a work environment that's less-frustrating or less stressful. Some levels of stress is usually important - at least for me - but the point at which stress seems to go away is also equally stressful for me. Larger companies do have organizational politics and success starts to depend not solely on your ability to contribute but also on your ability to work as part of a team. While some argue that politics is bad, I argue it's a necessary part of life that exists in all contexts (can there be a true meritocracy? qualifiers of merits can become quite subjective).

I'd also recommend you do research on the hiring company. Use resources like Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and old-school networking to find out what it's really like to work there. The people you meet during the hiring process may be groupies.

The standard pros for staying at your existing company is the brand equity you've built during your 3 year tenure there. Work friends can vanish quite quickly once you leave the organization.

WRT to earnings, I don't know where you're coming from or going to but be sure to adjust for cost of living and qualify of life. Salary alone doesn't quite paint the picture of your net income - try plugging your gross salary into calculators that take into account cost of living and changes in state tax.

I hope the above points help you in making a more informed decision. A buddy once told me "the grass is never greener on the other side - rather - think about how manageable the brown spots are."

Lastly, if you find any of the above helpful and want to send me a Careers 2.0 invite, I'd be grateful :)

answered May 5 '12 at 14:35
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Bangdang
401 points
  • Thanks for the input - I've updated the OP with a better breakdown of pros vs. cons. I do have some clearly-defined pros, but I've been disenchanted with my current position for awhile. I've been focusing some energy into my startup, though I have actively sought jobs in the past year or so. I may not enjoy where I am now, but I was pretty picky about potential employers (life's too short to hate your job, eh?). – Sarumont 8 years ago
  • I agree on the last part :) – Bangdang 8 years ago

2

I won't give you my personal opinion, because it's based on my personal experience and values and not yours. I see that you've listed pros and cons, which is a good step to making a decision. However, I find pros & cons limiting in helping making a decision. A 'technique' that a friend of mine showed me and that I found helpful is to build (what I call) a path table instead of list of pros and cons.

It goes something like this: Instead of listing positive and negatives, pros and cons, you start by splitting into two main paths : in your case staying and leaving. These allow you to not focus on the decision point between the two, but trying to look into the future on each different path. What would happen if you stay, What would happen if you leave...

Each of those paths you split into two columns each: Price and Benefit You list the price you might have to pay and the benefits you might gain for each of those paths. For example: a price for leaving would be missing your friends where you currently live. A benefit of leaving could be meeting new people in a new environment (just as an example). List both. Basically write down everything that comes to mind within those prices and benefits for both decision paths.

Simply writing it this way instead of pros & cons helps you structure your thought process better in my opinion. Once you have the path table complete, I suggest leave it aside for a while, coming to it later. When you do, try to summarise each of the four columns into its essence, or find the biggest theme/risk on each. This summary could also help you see more clearly what draws you more - the fear of paying a price or the excitement of getting the benefit and which path just feels right for you.

answered May 5 '12 at 17:50
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Yoav Aner
318 points
  • Excellent suggestion - thanks. I'll put my dry erase board to work with this later today. :) – Sarumont 8 years ago

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