When choosing a new job, you’re not just looking for the perfect role. You also need to consider what kind of company you want to work for.
Do you want to work for a social enterprise with an inspiring mission? Do you see yourself thriving in a company that’s fully remote? And probably the most important question is, do you want to work at a startup or join a corporation?
You may be wondering if the size of a company is really that important. If you’re only working with people in your team, does it really matter if there are 50 or 500?
The fact is, company size impacts more than the number of desks needed in the office. It trickles down through everything from the organizational structure to the culture.
So, before you decide to look for a new role, really think about what work environment suits you best. Here we weigh up the pros and cons of both.
We could write a thesis on startup culture alone. There’s something really special about joining a team right on the cusp of building something new and exciting. Working alongside highly motivated individuals who are passionate about what they’re doing is great. Plus, teams are usually small so there’s lots of collaboration, creativity, and bonding too. However, these small, close-knit teams can sometimes lead to office politics and cliques.
Corporate companies also have their own perks such as nice offices, pension plans and other really important things that can make your work/life more enjoyable. Because the teams are larger and more defined, they often have a more professional atmosphere.
Of course, corporate companies are not immune to their fair share of office politics. They often have steeper hierarchies and more bureaucracy. This means it probably won’t be possible to pitch an idea to the founder over Friday night beers, as you could in a startup. And any sort of change can take A LOT of time.
Autonomy and risk
Do you enjoy having complete autonomy over your work? Then joining an early-stage company could be a good move for you. However, startups are synonymous with risk. They often have high-pressure work environments. All it takes is one big mistake for the company to fail. After all, statistically, 90% of startups will not be successful. You need to be comfortable with that number and do what it takes to beat the odds.
On the other hand, established companies tend to have more routine, set structures and less risk. You won’t have as much autonomy over your work. You’ll probably be assigned tasks by your manager and work to strict deadlines and KPIs. However, if you mess up in a corporate job, there’s always plan B. Some people thrive in this security.
Of course, the biggest difference between startups and corporations is the amount of money they each have in the bank. We’ve all heard success stories of employees joining a startup at the beginning and basically setting themselves up for life. But it’s important to remember that they’re the exception and not the rule. The reality is that startups will always be short on cash whether that’s for employee wages, advertising budgets or even office decoration.
Corporations are a bit more established financially. They aren’t dependent on fundraising rounds or negotiations. They also have more cash available for hiring which means they often employ highly qualified candidates. While no business is 100% safe, lots of people prefer the financial security of a corporate role.
If you love working nine to five Monday to Friday then startup life might not be for you. Sure, lots of startups will claim they have a ton of flexibility, but this usually means you’ll be expected to do a little bit of work outside the 40-hour work week. Because roles are more casually defined, you could also get pulled in lots of different directions, which can sometimes lead to burnout.
In a corporate job, things tend to be a little bit more structured. Because you’ll have a dedicated HR team and people focused on employee wellness, you should (hopefully) have a bit more structure. However, corporations are still lagging behind startups when it comes to remote working opportunities and flexible hours.
Every employee has a powerful impact when working for a startup. As part of a small but dedicated team, you’ll have access to founders and other key leaders. You also have the opportunity to influence big decisions and shape policy going forward. It’s important to note that growth at a startup is not always linear. While you’ll get lots of amazing opportunities to expand your skills and learn about the different areas of the business, the flat organizational structure means that sometimes it’s hard to progress to a leadership role.
Your impact at a corporation will look a little different. You won’t be able to have your say on every aspect of the business. However, because you’ll usually be focused on one area, you get the chance to really become an expert in your field. Plus, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to move up the career ladder into a well-defined senior position.
Choosing the right company is tricky. It’s all about weighing up your priorities and deciding what’s really important to you.
Do you want a clearly defined career path or are you happy to chart your own course? Do you thrive in risky environments or do you need a safety net in order to do your best work? Do you want lots of creativity and freedom or would you prefer to have set boundaries and tasks? By answering these questions you’ll be able to find a role where you can thrive.
If you’re inspired to change position and embrace a new working world, there are plenty of open roles in both corporate and startup companies here.
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