When people ask me about joining startups, I always ask them what their superpower is. What is that thing that you can be counted on to do better than anyone else on the team? It could be that you’re willing to stay up for 3 straight days and grind out a deadline. It could be that you are the best writer and are super creative. Maybe you can raise money for the startup through connections or experience. Maybe you can prototype fast, even if your production code is mediocre. Maybe you can help recruit new employees to the team because of your contacts and enthusiasm. Maybe you know how to buy traffic cheaply and run the spreadsheets to never make a mistake. Maybe you’re great in presentations and speaking.
If you have a superpower, and you know what it is, a start up team might find you useful. If you don’t have a superpower, then you have to create one. Maybe you’ll work for free. Maybe you’ll be the first who’s willing to take the risk of believing in their crazy idea.
Even if you’re in a small company or a big one, it’s important to develop a superpower or two. Then people know what to come to you for.