Many young people wonder whether it would be better for their career to work for a corporation or a startup. It obviously depends on individual preferences and expectations. However, it’s worth knowing the difference between a startup and a corporate job before making a final employment decision.

Startup vs. corporate job – table of contents:

  1. What is a corporation? What is a startup?
  2. Working for a corporation
  3. Working for a startup
  4. Startup vs. corporate job – which is better for your career?
  5. Startup vs. corporate job salaries
  6. Summary

What is a corporation? What is a startup?

A corporation is a legal entity that is based on capital derived from shares sold in the form of stocks (often listed on the stock exchange). It can be created by a single or several stakeholders who want to achieve a common goal. Every corporation has its own clearly defined organizational structure that usually consists of directors, officers and shareholders. Corporations work on a large scale and hire thousands of employees who frequently build long-term careers there.

A startup, in turn, is actually the opposite of a corporation. It may not even have any formalized structure at the beginning of its activity. Unlike corporations, startups are organizations that focus on rapid growth, flexibility and change.

Working for a corporation

Corporations are usually recognizable brands with an established position in the market. Being associated with such an organization is prestiguous and certainly adds value to your cv. Corporate jobs have clearly outlined roles and responsibilities. Corporate companies have also well-defined processes so that any tasks performed are transparent and uniform.

However, due to their large scale of operation, there may be some problems with the information flow. Corporations are typically risk-averse, so they often hire experts to facilitate the decision-making processes. They offer steady employment, thanks to which employees can feel safe and secure.

corporate job

Working for a startup

Working for a startup looks totally different. Since startups are usually small businesses which operate in a fast-paced and ever-changing environment, employees need to be flexible and responsible. Their roles and tasks may change overnight. For example, one day you can be concentrated on product development, and the next, you might be on the phone answering the customers’ questions.

At startups, employees are also required to be independent, self-motivated and well-organized as there are no established rules and processes yet. Given a lot of freedom, they may have a great influence on the company’s development. Everyone is expected to pitch in wherever needed.

Startup vs. corporate job – which is better for your career?

It is easy to guess that there is no single answer here. Working for a corporation can be good for those who primarily look for stability and secure employment. Startups, in turn, are perfect for creative and passionate people who are willing to get insight into multiple positions.

Each of these career paths poses various challenges and involves performing different tasks. Not everyone is meant for a job at a startup, and not everyone feels comfortable in a corporate environment.

corporate job

Startup vs. corporate job salaries

Well, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that corporate companies usually pay their employees more than startups do. Although sucessful young businesses might attract specialists with competetive salaries at later development stages, typical startups don’t stand a chance to do it. According to various payroll reports, startups in the United States pay approximately 5% less than well-established corporations.

This isn’t a particularly bad result since salaries in European startups are lower by about 17%. Most of budding companies aren’t able to pay their employees what they’re actually worth until they grow and increase their revenue significantly. Also, startups often hire young and inexperienced people who still need coaching and mentoring.


Startups and corporations represent completely different worlds. Both work environments have their benefits, though. While corporate jobs might give you a sense of stability and security, working for a startup can be a valuable experience that will build a foundation for your successful career.

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Startup vs. corporate job. Which is best for you? andy nichols avatar 1background

Author: Andy Nichols

A problem solver with 5 different degrees and endless reserves of motivation. This makes him a perfect Business Owner & Manager. When searching for employees and partners, openness and curiosity of the world are qualities he values the most.

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