Working for a Startup vs. Corporation: Which Should You Choose?

By Emily Frawley

Don’t have a million-dollar idea to launch your own startup, but still interested in working for one? The innovative and dynamic startup realm has exploded over the past decade with an abundance of unicorns and IPO-success stories. Emerging companies have gained increased notoriety and public attention, fostering a deeper inkling of curiosity among prospective employees.

Yet with so much excitement surrounding the startup world, working for an emerging company may not be for everyone. How do you know that you’re cut out to work in a startup environment versus a corporate one? Here are some tips to help determine the type of organization that’s best suited for you.

Advantages of working for a startup:

Flexibility

In order to succeed at any emerging company, you’ll need to be extremely flexible. Workers must possess wide-ranging skills and be prepared to wear several different hats on any given day. From creative work to communications assignments, you’ll have the opportunity to pitch in and contribute to a variety of projects. What’s more, with an abundance of new and innovative technologies at your disposal, you’ll be able to expand your technical knowledge in learning sophisticated pieces of software and platforms.

Fast-Paced

One of the most well-known trademarks of startup organizations is its fast-paced environment. If you enjoy high-pressure situations and the ability to frequently overcome adversity, getting involved in an emerging company seems like a no-brainer. While your work may prove to be difficult and demanding at times, there is no workplace experience more rewarding than nurturing the growth of a startup. Building an organization from the ground-up and cultivating its success can be a professional milestone like no other.

Big Fish, Small Pond

Due to initial budgetary constraints, young startups almost always feature a pool of employees that is smaller in size. As such, your work will be more visible to company leaders, allowing you the chance to make a long-lasting impact right out of the gate. Employees at startup organizations will often climb the corporate ladder and advance quicker than those at larger-scale companies. If you’re seeking a workplace culture that allows for upward mobility, a startup could be a perfect fit for you.

Stock/Equity Options

Early salary offers from emerging companies may struggle to compete with those from large corporations. However, startups can entice potential employees with stock and equity options to incentivize the long-term success of the organization. Whether an employee holds a small percentage of the company or is given the opportunity to purchase shares of the company at a lower price upon going public, these financial opportunities can inspire a hardworking, relentless workplace culture in startups.

Here are some benefits to working for a large company:

Established Name

Working for a reputable employer brand has its perks. Some workers may place great emphasis on the name of their company and whether it is recognizable or not. In many early startup organizations, brands may struggle to catch on with their intended target audience. If you’d rather work for a company with immediate name recognition, you may be best suited to work for a larger company.

Day-To-Day Balance

In working for a larger organization, your day-to-day activities may be more defined with less variation when compared to a startup. With more employees on hand, workloads can be evenly distributed, leading to a greater work-life balance for all. In addition, an authoritative, hierarchical workplace structure may already be established, one that features a rigid chain of command. If you’re an employee who would prefer a steadier and more typical eight-hour workday, the corporate world may be best suited for you.

Job Stability

Let’s face it – the failure rate of a startup is much higher than that of larger corporations. While emerging companies can offer enticing compensation packages with stock options and exciting on-the-job responsibilities, you may be partial to a position with a bigger organization that promises job security. Depending on the stage of life you find yourself in, weigh your options and ponder whether a higher-risk, higher-reward move is appropriate for you.

Ultimately, your “startup vs. corporate” decision comes down to personal preference. If you’re an employee who seeks day-to-day stability, organizational hierarchy, and employer brand recognition in your professional life, then joining a corporate environment may be the way to go. But if you’re someone who enjoys greater workplace flexibility, mobility, and responsibility in your role, getting involved in a startup may be best for you.

Looking for a new opportunity with a startup organization? Viaduct can help! Check out our internal job board to view our latest job postings with emerging companies or connect with Emily on LinkedIn.  

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