How to decide between working at a startup vs. a corporate company


Job hunting can be a long and arduous process, but once you have some compelling offers you’re tasked with an important decision. Oftentimes, the two worlds that working professionals have open to them are the startup and corporate ones. 

While some believe startups to be too risky, others are motivated by high risk and high reward. No matter where you are in this decision, we’ve provided an in-depth guide on how to choose between a startup vs. a corporation to find your best career fit. 

Signs you could thrive at a startup

Startups have a lot to offer: from pre-IPO equity to a wide breadth of responsibilities, there’s no doubt that you’re taking the path less traveled. For some, this can be exhilarating. See if you’re one of those individuals with the following signs.

  • You love to learn and do new, exciting things
  • You’re excited by the idea of having potentially high-value, pre-IPO equity 
  • You prefer a smaller team and independent work environment
  • You like the idea of high risk, high reward
  • You love to learn about the latest and greatest technology and businesses
  • You’re looking to quickly learn a lot of new skills in a short period of time
  • You want flexibility and remote work options
  • You’re looking to move up the leadership ladder quickly

Signs a corporate company is for you

Corporations have the history and financial resources to support a stable lifestyle and predictability. If this sounds like somewhere you would feel at peace but also able to thrive, perhaps a corporate company is where you should look for your next career move. Read the signs below that this might be the right fit.

  • Structure and stability sounds like music to your ears
  • A stable salary and compensation package outweighs stock options for you
  • You’re an early career professional looking for mentorship and guidance
  • You want to specialize in your field without necessarily learning what different departments are working on or how they do their job
  • You prefer established company processes and a history of projects that you can go off of
  • You would rather work on long-term projects that have many steps to achieve as opposed to quick one-off tasks

Deciding between a startup or a corporate company comes down to your career goals and where you see yourself in the future. It’s common for professionals earlier on in their careers to take risks and join startups, while for more experienced folks to focus on stability in a corporate job. 

On the other hand, some professionals will work in a corporate position for years before deciding it’s time for a brave business venture. However, there’s no right or wrong way to navigate your career: you should be doing what’s best for you. Focus on your priorities and how to achieve your career goals to ultimately choose the work environment that fits your work style and career aspirations. If you still can’t decide, check out this flowchart from AngelList to help you decide. 

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