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Difference between working for a startup versus a corporate job

Nidhi Thakur
19th Nov 2016
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Humans are a complicated, curious, and utterly confused. We are always looking at our neighbours, and constantly fighting the “what if I could…” dilemma. While people working for corporates are constantly eyeing and feeling jealous of their folks at startups, the startup folks are complaining about how the corporates have it easier! In all honesty, no one has it easy and you’re going to find fresh complaints even on the other side of the bridge!

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The startup culture does attract a lot of attention and envy for being fresh, relaxed, accommodating, energetic, young, and hence quite cool overall! But all that glitters is not gold. While none of these points are false or pretentious, the hardships startup employees face is not spoken about nearly enough!

Here are a few glaring differences which could help you choose between working for a startup versus a corporate job.

  1. Jack of all trades or master of one – all your life you have learned to master at your area of expertise. If you’re a marketing genius, you look after your job and targets, and you let the others look after theirs – that’s how corporates roll. They depend on individual productivity for collective results. A startup cannot afford doing that. Here, you have to be the leader and the team. You come up with the idea and you see it through right till the end. There’s little or no delegation, and that’s the beauty of the startup experience!
  2. Better culture or higher salaries – what a startup can’t match in terms of corporate salaries, it tries compensating through its free-spirited and collaborative environment. You’re also at the constant risk of losing your job if the product doesn’t succeed and the startup has to shut doors. But you still choose to work for them because you believe in the product and you believe in yourself. Here you get a chance to build a fresh product from scratch. It’s all you, and when you see that succeed, it’ll be worth more than a million (okay, maybe not a million, but enough)!
  3. Team player or authority – you’re a team leader at a big MNC. You have your own office and a team that reports to you on a daily basis. You’re the boss! You have to get that out of your mind if you want to be a part of a startup. There’s no hierarchy here, not on paper and not at work. When you’re an office of 20 folks, you can’t afford hierarchies. In turn, you learn to be a better team player, you excel from collective showmanship, and you develop deep and meaningful beyond-work relations with your colleagues.
  4. Psychological bond or job responsibility – you should keep in mind that when you sign-up to work for a startup, you need to enter a psychological contract with them to shoulder their vision. You are them now. If they succeed, you succeed. But if they fail, you fail too. Taking the responsibility for someone else’s dream and vision is not an easy task. In a corporate, more of your focus is directed to ensuring the continued success of an already established product/concept. The level of responsibility is the same on both sides but the psychological belonging is very different.
  5. Self-satisfaction versus social status – if you’re someone who actually cares about what people think about you, more than what satisfies you and fulfills your professional thirst, then you might be better off at a corporate. Startups don’t come with a social status served on a platter – you’ve got to work with them and help them achieve it!

We’re not taking any sides here, and we’re not telling you what to do. We’re just trying to make you aware that the grass is equally green on both sides! Your happiness or success will depend on how you face your battles in that particular environment. So if you’re unhappy in your current workplace, do a bit of research and measure all possible alternatives before you blindly join the herd!

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