June 07, 2013 | 5 min read
Corporation vs. Startup: What You Can Expect

Tandym Group

When it comes to your job, the kind of environment you choose to work within can play a big factor in your overall happiness. There are several questions you will need to ask yourself before settling at a job, and answering these questions will help you choose a company that is a good match for your personality. For example, if you are more risk-averse, you may unknowingly be a better fit for a corporate job setting. If you can handle risk and prefer more freedom, perhaps you may find the startup job setting appealing. The following elements are all important factors to consider when beginning your job search and determining which work environment is right for you.

Work/Life Balance

  • Predictability: If you want a predictable, steady schedule at work where you can clearly map out your hours and plan ahead for vacations, the corporate environment is for you.
  • Family Values: Many corporate environments also take employees’ families into consideration and offer flexible schedules for parents as well as sponsor family functions or holiday events, which may be beneficial for an employee that wants to incorporate their family into their workplace in some way.
  • Spontaneity: For adventure-lovers, there is an aspect of spontaneity to a startup, meaning that plans may change according to demand and workload, and your schedule will have to change with it.
  • If you’re a high-risk, high-reward type of person who doesn’t mind spending more hours at work, the startup life might be calling your name.

Job Growth and Duties

  • Multi tasker: Often at a startup, a person is expected to wear many hats and be a Jack or Jill of all trades, which can be a positive thing for people who are determined to work hard and grow quickly.
  • Entrepreneur: If you’re interested in learning the ins and outs of your workplace and want to be part of a team that builds a company from the ground up, a startup is ideal for you.
  • Adventurer: Being part of a startup means taking high risk and a big stake in company performance, which can ultimately lead to high rewards or alternately, failure. The ideal startup candidate will have a certain comfort level with risk and adventure.
  • Consistency: At a corporate company you may be expected to become extremely skilled at performing the specific role for which you were hired. Consistency of responsibility is what drives corporate success.
  • Reliability: Working within a corporate environment, your role may not be as visible.  However, if the company is corporate, that means it has already established a steady level of success and there is less room for fluctuation or failure. A risk-averse person will likely be happier in a corporate environment.

Salary and Benefits

  • Industry Standards: Corporate companies typically offer steady and respectable salaries that come with benefits and the potential for raises or bonuses.
  • Variation: Startups on the other hand, may offer fluctuating salaries that do not necessarily align with the average. Often times the financial stability of startup employees relies on how well the company is doing.
  • Unique Benefits: Startups tend to offer workers other unique benefits to make up for leaner pay and a lack of corporate benefits. Some startups give more flexible hours, free snacks or meals, or even group exercise classes.
  • Experience: Also, at startups, workers tend to shoulder more responsibility, which can pay off as valuable experience on a resume.
  • Reliable Benefits: Many corporate companies offer reliable benefit packages that typically include vacation days, health insurance, and possibly the opportunity to continue education training.


  • High Visibility: At a startup, you’re more likely to be in a highly visible role, as there are fewer employees.
  • Motivated Attitude: Oftentimes, startups come with little training and management, so employees should be prepared to dive head-first into their responsibilities.
  • Slow and Steady: In a corporate environment, it may take longer to earn the opportunity to lead an important project, however the pace is steady and reliable.
  • Predictability: If you are someone who wants to settle into a rhythm at work, the corporate setting is ideal for you.
  • Can-Do Person: If you are a worker who wants to rise to the top quickly and welcomes spontaneity, the startup life may be for you.

Clearly both startups and corporate environments have their own unique fallbacks and advantages. The key to deciding which environment is best for you lays in looking at what you want out of life, and what you want out of a job. Answer those two questions honestly and you’ll realize which environment will enable you to be at your happiest and most productive.

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