The Five-Month Term

Toronto SkylineWhile checking out some local Toronto startups, I came across one that had an interesting take on the probationary period. They stated that the ‘project’ was for a five-month term, with the option to extend it indefinitely.

Outside of the startup world, it’s common to have a three-month probationary period. However, you can usually tell long before that if an employee is the right fit, especially within a small and nimble startup. After the first week, it’s pretty clear if the new hire can actually code or close. After the second week, you can usually tell whether they’re a good cultural fit.

If the startup has been burnt before by low-performing hires, then the probationary period would be shorter. Perhaps it’s based on some legal advice, or maybe the founders are simply being honest about their current resources. Instead of using the five-month term as a cop out, this might simply be a way of letting candidates know that they might be let go if the business doesn’t become profitable.

The honesty is refreshing, but it seems that some people might be turned off. Even after they realize the five-month term doesn’t have anything to do with a lack of belief in their skills, the thought that the founders are ready to give it all up in five-months isn’t very inspiring. Even if it is realistic.

Working with startups, you’re always ready for funding to run out. But you’re also ready to make compromises and eat ramen together until the vision finally becomes a reality. If you have the determination it takes to succeed, you don’t schedule an end date.

 

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