Breaking down the pros and cons of these two vastly different adventures.
In 2020 in the middle of a global pandemic over 800,000 new businesses were registered here in the UK. Now I am sure some of them are through necessity, and others were planned. The question now being asked is do we need to jump onto a corporate ladder anymore and is the start-up or scale-up the future of business. Let us explore what the differences between them are.
In a corporate world you are normally hired into a role to perform a process or look after a project for the business. Your manager or team leader designates, checks the work and oversees that you are producing good output or the project is on track.
That isn’t the same in start-up land. You are hired because of your previous experience and expected to initiate new ideas and processes for the benefit of the team. Even the most junior member of a start-up crew wears many hats. Whilst I may be the marketing whizz, I am also likely to be the office manager/facilities/Legal counsel and a myriad of other ad-hoc chores. You can never say that it's not my job.
Startups are all about being able to adapt and pivot a business. Particularly relevant at the beginning phase of start-up life. Life throws up barriers, issues, and challenges that means you have to be able to adapt and overcome.
Whereas corporations are about assured, confidence and ability. You become the expert in a certain product or service that is now devoid of hassle and stress because you are looking after that area. There is little you haven’t seen before and know how to deal with it.
A Corporation is hiring your experience and knowledge of a sector. Sure you will have new systems and activities to learn and grow, but the aim is to master them and thereby become efficient in your tasks.
In comparison sometimes you don’t fully know what it is you need to know. The system you know from experience, may not be the one being used by your start-up. You may have to look at some You Tube tutorials to answer a particular question or overcome a problem. You will become adept at finding solutions and learning the skills to solve problems.
We all like to be recognised for doing something great. And in start-ups your recognition is apparent to everyone in your team, just not in the wider world. It is a slow burn when your business is growing and you have to explain to everyone what it is you are doing. You will end up pitching in every meeting, every pub lunch and dinner party. Yet your passion will come across.
Working in a large multi-national show that you have worked within large highly matrixed, highly nuanced businesses. You can perform at a high standard and think across many sectors and geographies.The brand recognition of this works wonders for your CV and will shine with you for a long-time after you have left that business
Always a tricky conversation point. We all live by the mantra that if you work hard you will reap the benefits. That much has always been true. There are different ways though. A corporate role in a large organisation will always come with some nice perks. Life insurance, gym memberships, great Christmas parties, and a rigorous and unsurprising pay structure. Where you can see every step and the pay band on the way to your goal position on the board.
When businesses are starting out its difficult to find those cornerstones of a business you may need, so you hire friends and people you trust do get the job done and pay them accordingly. This is also the reason that Dustin Moskovitz is worth $450m, because he was in the dorm room when Zuck made “The Facebook”. If your start-up grows so does your wage packet, particularly if you have shares in the business.
We all have great people we work with. We spend more time with our work colleagues than we do with family so it helps to get on with them. Here is the universal truth that there is little difference between corporations and startups. We will work with people we like and people we don’t for many reasons. As long as you try to get along and do the job, nothing should stop you.
Although, and we are biased working at a hectic startup, trying to change open banking means we have attracted a team of people with the same start-up attitude of getting things done. It’s that difference in attitude that we feel is the main difference You have little budget so every penny spent is counted. Start-ups breed innovation – how do we go to market with no money. You end up becoming an evangelical about your product and you sell in EVERY meeting.
What they do give you and everyone involved is something less tangible, but equally strong. A shared purpose. Ownership and responsibility over some small piece of a businesses success.
Most importantly building something you are proud of.
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