New vs Old... Careers in startups vs big companies.
There are many reasons to choose to take a particular opportunity both personal and professional, but one of the things that can often be challenging when assessing a role is the type of company that's offering it. As with anything, different people suit different working environments and making sure you find what suits you is particularly important when setting out on a job hunt.
There are definite pros and cons of working for both a startup and a big company, and understanding what those look like might just help you find the place that's right for you.
Here are some of the things to think about:
1. Job Descriptions
Larger companies tend to have a relatively established structure, hierarchy, and allocation of responsibility. In contrast, startups with much fewer employees will inevitably have a much looser concept of what a roles entails. Neither of these scenarios are either particularly good or bad, it's just important to take note of these differences when considering a role. The benefit of the startup world is that you will likely have lots of opportunity to learn, to expand your remit, and potentially create more autonomy. However, if you're the sort of worker that wants clear remits over which you can take ownership without blurred lines between roles, the startup world perhaps isn't for you. A 'Jack of all trades' is perfectly suited to the fluidity of the ever-changing startup!
The smaller the company, the less day-to-day management, the more autonomy. Simple. Startup employees are often expected to make their own decisions, manage their own workflows and survive without a clear chain of command. If you're the sort of person who likes freedom, taking responsibility, and using your initiative then a startup can be the perfect proving ground. However, if you want to know you have a line manager to catch you then a startup might not be quite right for you.
There are some key differences between a startup and a big company's culture. That isn't to say that they won't have the same sort of culture, but the startup world is ever-changing, and the culture might not be that clear at the start. The flip side of this is that you might have an impact on the trajectory of the company and be able to creature some parts of the culture around you. In contrast, if you don't find the right cultural fit in a big company, it is unlikely that it's going to adapt to you. You will either have to adapt, or look for somewhere else, and that can always be hard. Finding a big company with the perfect culture can be the most boosting feeling, and present a long-term opportunity.
If you like to sleep soundly at night knowing your job is safe, a startup isn't the place to find that feeling of security. Quite often, in the early stages, startups aren't profitable, and they rely heavily on raising funds to sustain their growth. That means there is always a risk that the company isn't going to make it, and if it doesn't survive, neither does your job! But there is always a pay off. High risk, high reward. But if you're looking for that certainty, a long established business will give you greater clarity on the security of your position, and the company as a whole. They will have more capital to sustain their employees, even through challenging times.
Most startups, purely because of size, have a very flat hierarchy meaning that although there isn't a traditional path of progression, there is an opportunity to jump to a much more significant role far more quickly. You might find yourself starting out as a social media manager, and before you know it, you're the Head of Marketing for a fast growing tech company. The flip side is that there is now guarantee of progression and there is little clarity when it comes to scaling pay. In a large company, you can be fairly sure that after x years, you will be earning y money and you will have z job title. If you want to know what the future holds, a big company is probably the thing for you.
6. Knowing what's going on
Because of the small nature of a startup, you are far more likely to get an insight into the trajectory of the business, plans and projections than if you work for a big company. Proximity alone can give you direct access to extensive information that isn't afforded employees from bigger companies. However, it is possible that you don't want to be looped in on every game-changing aspect of the business, and if so, the bigger the company, the greater the control from the top.
Smaller company, smaller salary. Bigger company, bigger salary. Or at least that's the general rule. However, in a startup you might get stock options. For many they want to see the cash in the bank at the end of every month, and they don't want to gamble on what they could maybe make if the company is successful. However, if you're up for a bit of delayed reward, and you're working for a company you believe in, then you might just win big by tying yourself to the next big startup.
Making life decisions, career or otherwise, is always challenging, but picking the right environment to work in can be particularly difficult. But it is important to note, there isn't really a 'better' option. It is a personal choice about what suits you, and the place that has the chance to make you happier and more fulfilled is the one that's right for you. Simple!
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