There are plenty plusses and minuses that come with working for a startup. The biggest plus, in my opinion, is knowing when your money will run out. This gives you ample time to prepare for what's next if needed. While layoffs still hit smaller startups, it's not like at a big company where one day you have a great job and the next day you're in the unemployment line. With the risk of being in a startup, you get a little more security in the short term.
I've never worked for a big "stable" company. One day I'd like to, even though I'm fairly sure I won't be able to stand big corporate politics. Even though my job isn't perfect, I love that I sit in the same room as the CEO and that for the most part, there are no secrets about the business. Not everything is out in the open, but I can ask questions and get answers to most of my questions, and I try not to pry beyond my welcome.
The cons are largely in not being in charge and having little control over the direction the startup will take. If you are in control and you have VC backing, that's a lot of pressure on you. I'm not sure I could take that kind of pressure, so a part of me is glad that I get to sit on the sidelines and watch the game plays, even if I don't always agree with them.
Still, it's tough to know the date your job may end. I'm lucky that I'm young and single with an emergency savings account so being unemployed for a little while won't kill me. The question is, though, when is the appropriate time to jump ship? Do you wait and go down with the ship, and receive the honor that comes with that, or do you wage a full on job search?
So far I've sent out a few applications here and there, but the economy is limiting options and I haven't even landed an interview yet. My whole life I've been a roll-with-the-punches type gal, and I'll probably ride this little adventure out the same way. After all, my professional life has been a series of ups and downs leading from one job to the next, bringing me closer to whatever my dream job might be. When I got laid off from my part time admin job one morning and three hours later got a call from the company that would, within a week, offer me my first full-time job I knew to just trust the way the world works. I don't believe in God or karma, but I think things work out in the long run. In the meanwhile, you have to be smart, especially when it comes to finances. I'm no Einstein of dough, but having all my savings makes me a lot less nervous about the day, likely in the next year, when I will be out of a job.