Corporate Job VS Startup Which One To Choose? Practically Solving the Problem with Excel
Are you caught in the middle of deciding whether to join a corporate company or a startup? If you’re stuck and unsure which one is right for you, this blog post will help clear things up.
There has been a lot of discussion regarding corporate jobs at startup jobs recently.
A section of society says that startup jobs are cool because of a lot of equity, perks and privileges, and a lot of learning, etc.
And then, another side says corporate jobs have stability, brand, system, process, etc.
So, I will share my personal experience because I have not only worked in a corporate company but also started my startup.
I will conclude with an excel sheet method, which will help you choose between a startup and a corporate job.
So, let’s find out who is right.
Difference: Startup and Corporate Job
Startups- These companies typically lack a fully developed business model and adequate capital to move on to the next phase of their business journey. These businesses usually focus on a product or service the founders want to bring to market. Most startups are initially funded by their founders, which can often be a risky move but also one that shows a lot of faith in the product or service they’re hoping to sell.
Corporate Jobs– Corporate jobs are typically associated with medium and large corporations, often well-established businesses with multiple offices in different locations. These businesses usually have a corporate hierarchy and employ many people.
My Personal Journey
First, let me tell you about my professional journey and why I think I am slightly qualified to speak about this subject.
Because When I finished my MBA in 2006, I picked my first corporate job, a consulting job.
This consulting job was not even a mid-sized but a small company.
There were about 150 of us, but working with extremely smart people was very valuable; the salary was good, and that was my first experience in a corporate setup.
When I left that job in 2009, I started my first startup, which was secondshaadi.com.
I ran it for about 1.5 years and started gaadi.com too.
And then, once I quit that, I joined Groupon as the founding CEO of Groupon India’s business.
For the first two years, Groupon was very much like a startup. I was fully responsible for establishing India’s market, understanding it correctly, and then conveying what was needed back to headquarters.
So I got an unbelievable autonomy, almost like this was my company.
Still, it was just that I was getting a salary, I did not start this company, and of course, there was a fair bit of stability because of the corporate setup.
From 2013 to 2015, Groupon was a different company. It was a large, corporatist company; around 12,000 people worked in Groupon globally.
I was taking care of the APAC market, not the whole but some countries like India, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, working with the headquarters and the CXOs in the firm.
So it was a very different experience from the first two years, which was much more entrepreneurial.
Now it was a publicly listed company, so there were a lot of systems and processes, a lot of hierarchy, a lot of permissions required, and so on.
And then, in 2015, we started Nearbuy as a startup, again in its true blue fashion, so everything had to be started from scratch.
A new team was to be built; a new brand was to be created, technology was to be set up, and the whole market was to be made aware of that brand and that product, so everything was from scratch for the next four years.
Of course, after leaving that, I am in content creation, which is again a startup but on a very, very small scale than what Nearbuy was.
So if we summarize,
- I started with something which was a small corporate job.
- Then I went into a small startup.
- Then I went into a bigger scale startup.
- Then I went into a large corporate.
- Then I went into a mid-sized startup to return to a small one.
This has been my professional journey till now.
Through this, I have had the experience of looking at things very closely, appreciating the positives of corporate and startup jobs, and also realizing the negatives of corporate and startup jobs, which is what I want to share with you today.
Friends, it is essential to know that nothing is firmly right or wrong. Everything has a flavor of right and wrong, which is a very individual decision.
So now, I want to show you the differences between a corporate and a startup job to help you understand which of these two options can meet your needs at that point in your life.
1. Financial Stability
A corporate job gives you more financial stability than a startup.
It may not have that much Alpha or growth, but the Beta or the volatility is less.
So you know that you will get a salary at the end of every month, which is more or less accurate.
So the prediction, predictability, or probability of financial stability is high.
If you are in a phase where financial stability is very important, maybe a corporate job is the right decision for you.
If you are in a phase of life where you can take a financial risk, God forbid if you do not get a salary for 1-2 months, or for whatever reason, you lose your job, but you have the confidence that you can get another job, then a startup job can be a good option.
Many think a startup job pays very well, but that’s not always true. Last year, only 29% of businesses were profitable.
It pays well, but the probability of it being profitable from the first year is minimal, and you cannot bet on that if you want to make a lot of money decisively.
So if you’re a person who is ready to work on a very small probability of a significant outcome, then a startup job is the absolute right place for you.
But if you are a person who wants the probability to be more, even if the outcome is not as big, then a corporate job may be the right thing for you.
A startup, by definition, will put you in ambiguity.
Nothing would be set there; nothing would be transparent because they are themselves figuring their shit out.
So you will get an open-ended question:
- Go and figure out how this product works.
- Go and figure out what is happening in this market.
- Go and figure out what the pricing should be.
- Go and figure out how will this tool and system work.
If, as a person, you are not comfortable with open-ended questions, then a startup experience could be devastating for you.
It can harm you because many people are used to working with directions.
They know that if they are told what to do, they are far better at doing that, as against asking them to figure out how to do it and what is to be done.
On the other hand, if you are a person who is not afraid of ambiguity, you are not afraid of open-ended questions, and you may not even know where to start, but you enjoy starting and ending things, then maybe a startup job is a good option for you.
No work environment is perfect, and the corporate world is no exception.
Unsupportive Environment: One of the biggest problems you may face in a corporate setting is an unsupportive boss or colleagues. If they are only interested in taking advantage of you without giving you credit where it’s due. If this is the case, your job may begin to feel like a living nightmare.
Time: In the office, you have a set amount of time to get your work done. But commuting to and from the office can consume much of that time.
Responsibility: With work comes a lot of responsibility. It can be challenging to juggle it all. So, what can you do? Prioritize and decide the most critical task at any given moment and work accordingly.
Fixed Salary: Though working in a corporate job may have less risk than working for a startup, the earning potential is more significant once a startup is up and running smoothly. In a corporate job, it may take years to make what a startup can generate in a month.
3. Process and Systems
The biggest thing I learned in a corporate job is the power of processes and systems.
A corporate job is typically more stable and reliable because it is planned and often has systems and processes in place.
When I worked as a consultant for A.T. Kearney, I found that everything was already planned out for me, which made it easier to do my job because I didn’t have to worry about the logistics as much.
When Groupon expanded, everything was in a systematic flow, which teaches you a lot because of the process and system.
Two years back, I was very new to content creation, but I think I have been able to do well in the last two years because I learned this whole thing as a process, as a system.
Not as something that one day I will have a great content idea, then I will make a great video, and it will get viral. No! Every single week, showing up.
Every single day, showing up.
And doing it in a manner where everyone knows what needs to be done, when, and how is magical in a corporate job.
So if you are a personality who likes to work with proper planning and research, you have to have your aim clear before shooting, then a corporate job may be an excellent option for you.
But if you are a personality who thinks, let’s just shoot and see where it lands, maybe you hit a bullseye.
A corporate job may not be suitable for you because you will feel like the processes and systems are choking you, holding you, and frustrating you, while a startup job may be the right option.
On the other hand, the specialty of a startup job is that no matter how young you are, no matter how junior you are, and no matter how fresher you are, you get direct access to the leadership.
You work up close with the founders.
You work up close with the seniors and experienced people, and that is fascinating because you learn so much in a short period of time.
Now that works if you can have a very steep learning curve. If you are a person who learns by observing other people, no matter how much distance you have in between, you can still learn from them; then a startup job may be an excellent option for you.
But there are a lot of people, who I know, who cannot do that.
They know how to learn gradually; that is their superpower. They can’t expedite their learning curve overnight.
They want to progress appropriately, and that is what settles them. So if that is who you are, a startup job may not suit you.
A corporate job makes you realize the power of teams. You realize that you are a very small part of really big machinery, but if you do your job dedicatedly, then somehow your small job gradually combines with the other small parts and produces a huge outcome.
So if you love to see a massive indirect outcome of your work, then a corporate job is awesome because you see a massive result that is not direct but indirect.
But if you crave a direct outcome, no matter how small it is, then maybe a corporate job is not the right thing, and a startup job instead is the right choice for you.
The best thing about a startup job is that you quickly fail and learn from it because of the feedback loop, where you do some work. Instantly you get feedback from the market, consumers, and your customers. You immediately improvise on it and provide them with a new version again, so you learn from your mistakes quickly.
So if you are a person who reflects upon your failures, then a startup job can be brilliant for you because you will get a lot of chances to fail, and when you fail and reflect, you get a lot more chances to learn and thus be successful.
But if you are someone who tends to move on from their failures quickly.
‘Oh! You made a mistake! It’s ok! Move on! Keep working!’ Then it may not be suitable for you because of this nature of moving on after making a mistake and forgetting what happened, which may be suicidal for a startup job.
You have to learn from your mistake.
In a corporate job, you have to be an effective communicator.
Whatever work you did, it’s not enough, and it’s very important for you to tell people about the work.
You will have to show people how your work ultimately produced an outcome.
So if you are a personality who knows how to talk about their work, you like it, you also understand that when people see your work and appreciate it, that will only help you, then a corporate job may be brilliant.
But if you are a person who thinks that your work should speak for itself, you won’t say anything because the work by itself shows its importance, then a corporate job may not be the right thing for you.
6. Brand Recognition
Usually, a corporate job comes with brand recognition, and brand recognition opens doors for you.
So if you have worked with any big brand like A.T. Kearney or Groupon, people suddenly recognize you through that brand.
So if your credentials need a brand, a corporate job is right for you.
If your credentials do not need a brand because maybe you are from a great college or you feel that you do not need anybody’s credentials in life, then a startup job may be the right thing for you.
A startup job nurtures you as a generalist because, by definition, when you join them, there is no set task; everybody does everything.
So you automatically become experienced in everything, and because of that, you become a generalist instead of a specialist, which is what startups love.
So if you want a generalist profile, a startup job is right for you.
But if you want a specialist job, then it may be a better idea to start in a corporate setup.
7. Discussion and Debates
The most crucial thing in corporate jobs is discussions and debates.
A corporate job is perfect for someone who loves to research, debate and come to a decision based on analysis.
In a corporate setting, no one person is considered more powerful than another. So if you enjoy presenting your analysis and discussing or debating the topic with experienced people, you’ll love working in this environment.
But if you are a person who wants to make quick decisions because, according to you, it is more important to make decisions rather than contemplate whether it’s right or wrong, then a startup job may be the right thing for you.
In a startup job, you will get so many responsibilities on day one that it may be overwhelming.
You will be given a responsibility where it will be assumed that you can do everything, and then you have to start making that happen automatically.
So if you are a person who is okay with getting a role first and then later growing in that role through your work, then a startup job is a brilliant thing for you.
If you want on-the-job training, you learn by making mistakes and failing; a startup job may be right for you.
But if you are a person who gradually wants to grow in a role and then get the role, then a corporate job may be the right thing for you.
A corporate job will train you properly to do your job because your output is very important for them, so your training is also very important for them.
So if you wish to have a very planned training outcome attached to your job, a corporate job is the best.
In a startup job, more often than not, the communication is very transparent. You know everything happening around you because the team is small, and everybody has just started, so there is a lot of camaraderie around that.
A lot of people like it.
This transparent communication appeals to many people’s personalities; if that is the case, a startup job is excellent for you.
But there are many people who don’t like to listen to everything; they don’t want to know everything that happens around them.
They want to stick to their work, and they want to be intently focused on what they are doing and how well they are doing it, as against knowing everything that’s happening around them, like how much money is there, what is our runway, will we stay afloat or not, how much was a monthly business, so on and so forth.
They are not interested in it. And if that’s the case, a corporate job may be right for you.
Conclusion: Try and Find
Now that I have shared all these differences, there is nothing right or wrong about a corporate or a startup job.
The debate of corporate versus startup job is not about corporate vs. startup job; it’s about you and who you are.
What is your personality? What do you want from life, then? What is your nature?
Because that then determines whether a corporate or a startup job should be the right thing for you.
So, I want you to choose a corporate or a startup carrier. I have created a special Excel Sheet for you where you can prioritize your needs, and it will show which one is a better carrier to choose.
Because everyone is different and they have different needs and expectations.
You can easily adjust the weightage of different factors to see how it affects the output by opening the Excel sheet and going to the Weightage section. Prioritize what is important to you, and you will get results that reflect your preferences.
This is an excellent way to figure out that whenever you have to decide between two jobs or two choices, you actually consider all the necessary factors.
How are those factors different from each other, that is the biggest thing, and then you just rate it whatever the choices are.
Similarly, you can rate many other choices, and you will always have an answer which will be an objective help to your eventual decision.
If you still have questions, let us know in the comment section, and we will try to help you.
Ankur Warikoo inspires this blog from one of his videos. He is an Entrepreneur, Public speaker, Angel investor, YouTuber, and founder of Nearbuy. So, he shared his own experience on Startup vs. Corporate Jobs.