Startup vs Corporate: Which Culture Is Right For You?
By Nafi Wernsing on Sep 19, 2022
Have you recently graduated and now you are looking for your first full-time position? You have gone through the job boards and found a variety of options from startups to corporations but do not know which one is right for you.
Then you have come to the right place because we are here to help answer your questions about what type of company you should work for: startup vs corporate.
Startup companies tend to be popular with the younger generation as they are surrounded with like-minded individuals. Yet, while startups can be fun due to their fast-paced environment, it is not necessarily the experience or type of company people are looking to work for.
This is where the corporate world comes into play. Some individuals may prefer working for a well-established company and the benefits that come with it.
So you are probably asking yourself what is the difference between a startup vs a corporate company, which type of company you should work for or what would fit you best.
This blog will compare a startup vs a corporate company, help you in what career path you should take and whether you should work for a startup or a corporate company.
Difference between startup and corporate company
To understand the difference between a startup vs corporate company, we best explain what each of them is and their unique characteristics.
So a startup is a company that is usually in its first stages of development and looking to scale up quickly. They tend to be founded usually by young, innovative and collaborative individuals who want to make a difference and are primarily focused on growing the company.
A startup has certain characteristics that make it completely different from a corporate organisation. In a startup, creativity is highly valued and it tends to be less formal than in a corporate organization. That is right, if you are full of beans and ideas then startups would love to have you as they are always looking to grow quickly and if you bring fresh ideas to the table, it can be a game changer! Startups usually allow smart casual dress codes as well in comparison to the formal suits of the corporate world.
You also get to take on more responsibility and grow your skills tremendously by working at a startup. No two days are the same and you will be required to assist in different departments. This will allow you to gain new valuable skills. In a startup, be prepared to take on more than one role increasing your responsibility essentially. One of the best parts is that you will notice how much you grow along with the startup itself!
Working in a startup you are also expected to manage your tasks and time. There is more flexibility as startup companies do not follow the same hierarchy structure as corporate companies. There is a real opportunity for you to develop rapidly. Before you know it you will provide valuable input in product development, strategies and best practices.
Startups tend to be extremely fast-paced. Your work can differ from day to day and so do your roles. Chances are you will be required to do a new task every day and the best part is that you decide how these get done. There are many opportunities to learn and grow in this fast-paced environment.
Lastly, startups are known for their transparency in communication and proactivity. Communication between the founders and employees is transparent and open. Most startups deeply appreciate your feedback or ideas especially as these can be valuable assets. You are expected to step out of your comfort zone and provide something valuable to the table!
A corporation, on the other hand, is well past the startup phase and is already a well-established organization or entity. They tend to follow a hierarchical structure and focus on productivity.
Since a corporation is already an established entity, it tends to have the brand recognition that startups may not. Think of the likes of Nike, Zara, Samsung and countless other companies. They have already built a brand reputation and are therefore easily recognized worldwide. Working for a well-known company always looks good on the CV!
When you work at a corporate company you are assigned to a specific role. So if you were hired to be a marketing assistant then it is a guarantee that this will be your line of work. Corporate companies, therefore, tend to have clear roles and well-defined tasks. You know what is expected in your position and when they need to be completed.
Next, unlike startups, part of the corporate characteristics is that they tend to follow established processes. In simple terms, they have a way of getting things done, which makes it difficult to get things done or influence the big picture. The reason these processes are put in place is that it tends to create clarity, uniformity and more often than not a lot of bureaucracy.
Do not expect corporate companies to tell you their deepest secrets because they are not transparent at all. Especially when it comes to sharing information, you can forget it!
Another major difference between corporate vs startups is that corporate companies tend to be risk-averse. Corporate or large companies are not the biggest fans of taking high risks. They prefer playing it on the safe side. Especially when it comes to making decisions, it is not uncommon for them to hire experts in helping them make decisions. These procedures are often long because it needs to be as logical as possible.
Lastly, corporate companies tend to have more job security and stability. A lot of startups fail in their first few years. Because of their longevity and established nature, you can feel a lot more secure in your position working at a corporate company.
Other factors that differentiate the two are the work hours, work culture, workplace and salary which we will discuss in the next part.
Advantages and disadvantages of a startup company
To explore which option you should work for, we must first look at the advantages and disadvantages of each... Starting with startup companies.
Startups tend to be extremely agile and efficient. As startups consist of smaller teams and transparent communication
Due to the fast-paced nature of startups, they are extremely versatile and offer a lot of flexibility. You are given autonomy over your work and you can be as flexible as you like. You are essentially responsible for your own work. You receive minimal supervision as well so you really get to own it!
Due to its unique experience, you are offered vast opportunities to learn. There are great opportunities for innovation and high-value equity. If you prefer to work in a smaller team then startups offer the chance to do so with like-minded individuals and they are often your age as well!
While the startup environment sounds fun it is not all fun and games because it comes with its cons as well.
Firstly, there are a lot of risks involved. Startups have to ensure they survive the first five years as that is the period a lot of them fail so it involves a lot of risks and risk-taking as well to help grow the company quickly. You will also not find the same level of job security in startups as well.
Due to the financial limitations that startups tend to have, there is a high chance that your salary will be considerably lower than that at a corporate organisation. Startups also do not have the same market access and resources as corporate organisations. If you are a fan of structure then you will not likely find any at a startup.
As it usually consists of a small number of people it also increases the potential for team conflict which could be costly. Due to the fast-paced environment, there is also a heavy workload and stress. If deadlines are not met, you will be held accountable especially since it was your responsibility. Expect long hours as well!
Advantages and disadvantages of a corporate company
Now that we have an idea of what the advantages and disadvantages of startups are, it is time to delve into the corporate world. Like startups, corporate companies come with their unique advantages and disadvantages. Let start this section off with the advantages!
Corporate companies tend to offer more business securities and perpetuity. As long-running businesses, they are likely to provide you with high job security. They also have more resources available and offer numerous career development opportunities and the chance to specialize in a particular field as well.
You will likely receive more compensation and get employee benefits such as health insurance, gym memberships, transportation cards, and many other.
Corporate companies also follow a structure and order which means it can benefit your work-life balance for the better. Working at a corporate company is also seen to help improve your status.
The first big drawback of corporate companies is that they tend to be risk-averse. They do not like living life on the edge and it is therefore extremely difficult to input any ideas that could change or challenge the structure hence why it can feel like a bureaucracy. Corporate companies are also not as transparent and open as startups and there is a narrow scope of work.
Which culture is right for you?
Now having done a thorough in-depth analysis of both startups and corporate companies you are probably asking yourself what culture is right for you.
Well, let us put it in simple terms. You should work for a startup if you love a fast-paced, ever-changing work environment. You love taking responsibility and doing something different every day and are passionate about what the startup is trying to achieve. You are willing to sacrifice job security and compensation for the likes of growing your skills professionally and witnessing the growth of a company. If these all sound like you, then you have to work for a startup!
If you value a more structured and organized approach to working, value work-life balance and prioritize compensation. If you value employee benefits and really want to focus on specializing in a particular area then you should work for a corporate organization.
So there you have it! Hopefully, you know what type of company you want to work for. AIP works with a variety of startups and corporate organizations as well. We can help you gain valuable experience in both industries. Head over to our website and start by applying today!