startup or corporate: what is the best company for you?

Startup vs corporate enterprise - which is the best company for you? Both have their unique advantages so it can be a real challenge to decide where you’d prefer to work.


This is why it’s important to carefully consider your priorities for your current situation as well as your long-term career, and if the companies in question can meet your expectations. 

Here are our top tips for working out if you’re better suited to a startup or a corporate giant.

Think about the long term

If you don’t know exactly what you want to do in the future, you could benefit from the wider focus required in a startup job. Employees of these smaller organizations tend to have a more expansive remit than those in bigger companies. The variety could give you the chance to do things you never expected, as well as the opportunity to figure out what you really enjoy.

Describing her duties when she worked at a startup, marketing manager Avery Augustine said: “I managed a team of employees, wrote training manuals, designed internship flyers, answered the phone, and interviewed prospective employees (and that’s only the beginning!).”

However, if you have a clearly defined career path set out ahead of you, then a corporate environment, with the associated narrower focus that comes with the job, is likely the best company for you. Augustine explains that when she started in a corporate role, it was “a more focused position” that didn’t require her to “wear all those other ‘hats’”.

Consider the impact you could make

When evaluating the company you want to join, think about the kind of impact you could make. Do you want to come in and make an immediate mark on the company or would you prefer to take a little time to settle in?

Augustine points out that in a corporate environment, you will “have a lot less influence” than you would at a smaller firm. If you’re an idea-driven individual, a startup could be the most appropriate place for you, according to Nikola Otasevic, co-founder of interview practice firm Refdash. He highlights the fact that if you have an idea in the morning, “in a startup, you can have that idea live and serving users by that afternoon”.

In a corporate company, there will likely be longer processes to get ideas off the ground. Although this may sound like a negative, the fact that there are different rounds of approval for the plan to get through means that it will likely be well thought-out with fewer potential glitches. It will also probably end up serving more users than a startup would, so if you’re looking to have an impact on as many people as possible, a corporate firm is the right place to be.

Evaluate what you need to succeed

When you’re deciding between a startup and a corporate job, you’ll need to evaluate what a company will be able to offer you. Do you want guidance and advice from senior colleagues? Or do you want to be able to use your own initiative?

Typically, you’ll be given more support at a larger firm, where managers can offer you training and assistance with certain projects. This makes them better suited to workers who prefer the security of a strong managerial team. As most roles are specialized, issues can be addressed by the most appropriate person, often leading to things being taken out of your hands.

However, if you want to solve problems yourself, showing that you’re a vital member of the team, a startup environment is where you want to be. Smaller companies often won’t have the resources necessary to tackle significant complications, which gives you the chance to impress your bosses and co-workers. This kind of workplace will provide you with the opportunity to enhance your problem-solving abilities and add real value.

Chief strategy officer and chief marketing officer at EMC’s Information Intelligence Group Jeetu Patel advises that you focus on the company - regardless of whether it’s a startup or a corporate enterprise. This will ensure that you align with the company culture and values of your chosen firm.

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