The official blog of Abacus Group — a place to share our knowledge and thoughts on trends in recruiting

August 11, 2017

Startup vs Corporate: Two Households, Both Alike in Dignity

Before distinguishing the differences between a startup and corporate job, it must first be determined the difference between a startup and small business. Silicon Valley serial-entrepreneur Steve Blank describes a startup as being a “temporary organization designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model.” In this sense, startups seek to achieve their business model in the fastest manner possible in an attempt to have the greatest amount of impact on the market and their specific industry. Startups also begin with the intent to grow into a large company whereas small businesses are aware they are in a league of their own, with competitors of a similar size. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) describes a small business as being “independently owned and operated, organized for profit, and not dominant in its field.”

With that clarification made, below are the three biggest differences between a startup and corporate job:

1. Pay

Typically, remuneration in a corporate environment is better than that of a startup. The reasons for this are obvious. Corporate brands are more established than their startup counterparts and thereby have larger budgets. Notwithstanding the fact that startups can have millions in venture capital, this fiscal backing is often proportionate to the unprofitability of the early-stage company. Pay may be lower in a startup environment. Often companies compensate for this discrepancy by offering perks like flexible working hours, generous paid-time-off and of course, stock options. Given that a startup is less developed and the risk is higher than at a corporate company, aspirational stock options also work as a motivator for employees to invest a lot in helping the company succeed.

2. Responsibility

Employees of a startup have more responsibility given the limited manpower and ambitious business model. Your role may not necessarily be confined to the job description with which you aligned when you applied. Marketing and Communications Manager and former employee at a tech startup, Samantha Garcia:

“When working for a startup, you need to be flexible and happy to wear many hats. It’s an incredibly fulfilling experience because you are pushed out of your comfort zone and are able to expand upon your skills. It can, however, be quite testing when you take on a heavy workload atop the knowledge that a large part of the success of the startup relies on your performance as a team member. The pace at which you learn is accelerated but that is in part due to necessity. Like anything, however, if you love the work you embrace the responsibility and it won’t feel like work at all.”

3. Direction

Startups move at an un-abating pace. This notion is in direct correlation with the objective to grow into a large company that may rival heavyweights of the industry. Small incremental improvements to the product and/or service are not an option given the time constraints for a startup to succeed. As such, decisions are made quickly regardless of their magnitude. Pivoting the product or hiring and firing staff may be conclusions made within a week. Startups are consequently not synonymous with stability. It can provide a lot of excitement and opportunity, however, can be somewhat anxiety inducing as well.

Conclusively there are many factors in deciding to work for a startup or corporate company. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and these facets will vary from industry to industry. Hence why it is necessary to prioritize what takeaways from the job mean the most to you. The aforementioned differences may not majorly affect your decision however they remain the most noteworthy.

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