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Leaving a startup is never easy, but sometimes you have to do it.
Here’s a list of reasons why you might want to leave your company for greener pastures. If one or more of the following things happens to you, you know what to do.
1. You don’t believe in the vision anymore.
This means you don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe you saw it before, maybe you tricked yourself into seeing it (happens all the time). Whatever the case may be, if you don’t believe the vision, it is time to go.
2. You don’t believe in the management anymore
This can be looked at in two different ways. You may not believe upper management is making the right moves (i.e. they are out of their depth, not moving fast enough, and putting their heads in the sand from bad info). Or, you may simply not believe in them — whether you observed something morally unethical or just don’t like them as people (could be you just don’t enjoy working with them).
3. You aren’t excited to go to work in the morning
Not being excited to go to work in the morning can be a big company problem, but not always. At a certain point when you work for a bigger startup, some days you’ll mail in your work and find yourself bored. In every scenario, not being excited about going to and doing your work is one of the biggest signs that you are done.
4. You can’t be successful because you don’t have the proper support
This is the most common, but least spoken about reason why people leave startups. Basically, what happens is you get sold this vision of your company, you get hired to perform a role, and then you quickly realize the infrastructure isn’t there and you are missing a hundred different things to be able to be successful at your job. That’s all fine — if you can get support to resolve these problems. You need to work at it, but with the right support you can accomplish anything. Without the proper support and after trying for months, if not years, it‘s time to bounce.
5. You’ve become obsessed with solving a different problem
Sometimes you fall out of love with the product or company you’re working for. Most times it is because you fall in love with something new. Maybe it is a different industry. It could be a different company, and it might even be your own company. When you are more obsessed with working on something different from the company you currently work at, it might be best to go.
6. If staying means you diminish your word and lose trust of peers
This is more relevant to business people than engineers. When working on deals, to be the best you need to sincerely sell the other side. This means that you truly believe what you are doing will help them. If you sincerely sell, but know you are selling bad goods (i.e. product doesn’t work, it is really a waste of time, etc.), it is hard to stay on that path. It is even more difficult when people decide to work with you and your company doesn’t live up to basic expectations.
If that’s the case, you can either stay where you are and lose the trust of your peers, or leave and hope to keep some semblance of a relationship with these people. This is tricky at startups but happens often.
7. Bad habits of teammates begin rubbing off on you
This is another way to say, working with B players can turn A players into lesser versions of themselves. This could be in the form of slacking off, not demanding the absolute best from yourself and your team, or even just simply not delivering in a timely manner. If you start feeling some of these bad habits rubbing off on you, it may be time to consider whether you are surrounding yourself with the right people and if this is a good short or even long-term fit for you.
8. Anything illegal or close to illegal should have you running
This is obvious, but needs to be stated. If you get a bad sense or think things sound fishy, get some clarity. If you’re in a bad situation, get out of there and do it fast.
There are probably a million other reasons why one should leave a job at a startup. You could be going through one of the above and decide that is worth sticking it out because the payoff is worth it (could be money, or something else). From my experience and what I’ve witnessed from others, these are the biggest reasons why people leave startups.
Alex Taub, is the co-founder of SocialRank, a tool that helps brands find out more information about the people that follow them on social networks. Alex previously worked in BD and Partnerships at Dwolla and Aviary.
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