Startup vs Corporation: Which Business Is Right For You?

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Startup vs Corporation: Which Business Is Right For You?

When it comes to finding your next job, the type of company you work for matters just as much as the position itself, as this can affect your salary, working hours, working environment, and more.

This article will explore the differences between working at a startup and a corporation.

What Is A Startup?

A startup is a company in the first stages of operations with less than 50 employees. One or more entrepreneurs set up a startup to develop a product or service for which they think there is demand.

These entrepreneurs normally finance their startups or gather outside investment from funding sources such as family and friends, venture capitalists, crowdfunding, and loans.

Startups are typically fast-growing, agile, and innovative. However, up to 90% of startups across all industries fail, with 10% doing so in the first year. 

Some of the most successful startups, now giant corporations, include Airbnb, Google, Uber, Facebook, and Amazon.

What Is A Corporation?

A corporation is a company authorized by the local state to act as a single entity. It is created through incorporation, which involves filing specific documents and meeting legal requirements. 

Legally, a corporation is separate from the owners (shareholders) and has its own rights and responsibilities, so it can sue and be sued in the courts, make contracts, and purchase property.

Apple, Walmart, and Microsoft are all examples of corporations.

Differences Between Startups And Corporations

Here’s an overview of the difference between working at a startup or a corporation and how to decide which one is right for you: 

Job Roles

In a startup’s early stages, budgets are tight and teams are small, meaning employees have to perform a range of tasks and take on a range of roles they may not have signed up for.

Corporate employees usually have precise, well-defined tasks within their job role. You will know the expectations for the role, who you need to report to, and when tasks need to be completed. 

Before choosing which company to work for, consider whether you prefer to be thrown into the deep end on day one with little to no orientation or follow a well-developed protocol for onboarding.

Working Hours

With limited resources and staff, it’s common for startup employees to work long or unusual hours as and when needed, which don’t usually suit those with families or other commitments.

Corporations have concrete procedures, protocols, and guidelines that control daily operations. If you prefer a traditional 9-to-5 role, you’re more likely to get this from a corporate job where hours are set and offices close on time. 

Before choosing which company to work for, consider how much you value your work-life balance.

Working Environment

Startup culture is often perceived as less formal than a corporate environment and puts less emphasis on hierarchy. In addition, startups are usually very fast-paced environments, so you need to be okay with the change this can bring.

A corporate job often comes with a more formal work environment, so it’s not uncommon for employees to be unfamiliar with colleagues and job tasks outside their immediate teams or departments. 

Corporations also have a more structured hierarchy, so you will report to managers and have your work checked more regularly.

A fast-paced, dynamic environment can be exciting and provide opportunities to learn and grow within the startup, but you may prefer structure and organization. Before choosing which company to work for, consider whether you want to be in a formal or informal environment and how vital a chain of command is to you.

Career Growth

Startup teams are not as hierarchical and tend to be smaller than large corporations. This enables employees of all levels to freely exchange thoughts, ideas, and opinions and participate in decision-making.

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Due to more competition in the workplace, corporate jobs usually come with a difficult path to the top of the C-suite – the executive-level managers, including CEO, CFO, COO, and CIO – especially for women.

Before choosing which company to work for, consider how quickly you want to climb the ladder and progress.


As mentioned earlier, startup money is often tight – especially in the early stages – so you won’t be guaranteed a competitive salary. However, your wage can increase once the startup becomes more established, making a salary jump faster than in a corporate role. 

In addition, benefits like health insurance or paid time off might take some time to be available. However, intangible benefits often include free lunches, weekly happy hours, nap pods, and a casual dress code.

Corporate jobs usually guarantee competitive salaries, benefits packages with free company smartphones and laptops, the stability of working at an established company, and job security.

Before choosing which company to work for, consider whether money and benefits are more important than a chance to grow within a startup and build closer employee relationships within smaller teams.


Startup and corporate recruiters can argue their advantages, but it’s all about finding the right fit for you. So think about your preferred work style, how you work most efficiently, and how your next role will impact your career goals.

If you are still trying to decide what company is best for you, try applying to a middle-sized company. These offer the best of both worlds – a robust infrastructure while allowing for some growth and flexibility.

Neve Wilkinson is an experienced content writer at Solvid, with a passion for writing data-driven marketing and business articles. I’ve previously had my work published on HR Cloud, TestingTime, HRreview, and The Future of Commerce.

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