Accounting Job Tips: How to Spot a Great Start-Up

Whether it’s the busy season of a Big 4, or the pressures of the corporate world, the idea of working for a savvy, fast-paced start-up can appeal to many accounting and finance professionals. But if you’re considering working for a start-up, it’s important to be able to identify a good one.  After all, there’s no point leaving your finance or accounting job if you’re not transitioning to something better.

Myth Busting
Let’s start with a little myth busting. You’ll work long hours at a start-up – maybe not every day, maybe in spurts that match the ebb and flow of the business, but you will work long hours. On a positive note, everyone is in it together, typically lending itself to a strong company culture. The second myth –that you’ll get to do your own thing – seems to be founded on the idea of the lone wolf entrepreneur, starting a business from scratch and creating a culture where the maverick rules. The reality is that you’ll still have a boss, who will have expectations of you and a process that you’ll need to follow. Finally, the internet is filled with stories of start-ups where everyone made money and retired after two years to live in a castle with a moat (okay, maybe the moat is overkill, but a castle…).  Realistically, it’s best to take a long-term view, rather than pin your hopes on early retirement.

Still interested in working for a start-up? Here’s how to spot a good one.

Sign #1: Winning Culture
One sign of a good start-up is a winning company culture. Shared values and behaviors create a positive culture that increases motivation and productivity.

Sign #2: Mentoring
Great start-ups give you access to higher level decision-makers who invest in your personal and professional growth.

Sign #3: Communication is Key
Look for transparent communication – with employees, vendors, customers and suppliers. And we don’t just mean positive news – negative news is communicated with an equal level of transparency.

Read5 Skills You Need to Rock Your Finance Job at a Start-Up” to see if you have what it takes to succeed in a start-up environment.

Sign #4: The Right Employees
Great entrepreneurs hire the best possible team. They’re also able to retain top people, so if your research reveals an issue with retention, consider that a significant red flag.

Sign #5: Disruptive Idea + Strategy
A sign of a strong start-up is a founder who is committed to disrupting the industry and making it into something better.  But it’s not enough to have a disruptive idea, the founder must invest money in people, processes and technology that will allow the company to become a significant player in the marketplace.

Sign #6: User Experience
Start-ups can’t rely on brand loyalty, at least not initially. This means that you want to work for a company that offers an exceptional user experience.

Sign #7: Cash Conservative
Sign on with the company who is cash conservative. Future success for a start-up is founded on the ability to stretch early stage funds even if larger funds are available.

Read5 Sure Signs a Start-up Firm Will Succeed” for an interesting column from a communications company on what makes a great start-up.

Key Takeaways
Great start-ups offer a winning culture where employees are mentored and have access to high level decision-makers. Successful start-ups are cash conservative, provide a superior user experience and want to disrupt the existing marketplace. Their founders are strategic thinkers who are willing to invest in the people, processes and technology to fulfill their vision for the organization. It’s these kinds of start-ups that an accountant or finance professional wants to work for.

Your Next Step
No one should walk the job search or hiring road alone. At Clarity Recruitment we help others realize their success through a process that marries proprietary technology with unwavering commitment. Contact us today to take control of your career, or to partner with us to hire well.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.