Finding Your Path: Exploring Corporate vs. Startup Culture

Business man standing in front of The New York Stock Exchange

Over 100 million businesses are launched annually around the world, according to GEM Global Report. This staggering number shows just how popular the idea of founding a startup has become around the world. In every city, people are trying to turn their ideas into businesses unlike ever before.

This massive growth of startups is making for a new way of earning a living, one in the familiar confines of traditional corporate structure and another in the exciting unknown that accompanies a startup. Each setting offers its own opportunities, and some business professionals would be best suited for one instead of the other.

Growth of Startups

What has brought about this massive explosion of startups? There are a few key factors that have contributed to create an environment ideal for startups.

The Cost of a Startup

The biggest reason why so many startups are popping up is because the cost of entry is simply so low. Startups in the 1990s could cost a small fortune with website costs alone. Today you can build a legitimate website for nearly nothing. If you have the programming skills, you can build a smartphone app for cheap or have one built for less than $10,000. All of these factors make it easy for someone with an idea to turn it into a business.

Available Funding and Support

Eventually every growing startup needs money, and that’s available more than ever as well. According to the investor software company Mattermark, 2015 saw a 50 percent increase in capital investment year over year. This massive growth shows that more money is continuing to be invested in small and growing startups. With so many investors looking for the next big thing, well planned and managed startups can find the money they need easier than ever.

This support also comes in the form of advice and guidance from startup incubators and accelerators. These groups welcome in new and growing startups and help them take the next steps in their journeys. Incubators and accelerators are often led by veterans of the startup scene who provide tremendous knowledge and experience. These services make launching a startup a much less daunting task.

The Effect of Social Media

A less measurable part of the startup explosion has been the emergence of social media. Social networking offers an invaluable platform for entrepreneurs to spread the word about their startup and for investors to find potential opportunities. Social media allows startups to build a brand and grow their business with little cost and high interactivity.

Differences in Workplace Culture

Each business professional is different. Some would thrive in the open-ended environment that a startup offers. Others would prefer the structure that a corporate workplace can offer.

Corporate Culture

While at first glance a corporate structure may seem constrictive, the reality is that it offers some important distinctions that are of benefit to some people. Corporate cultures are ideal for those determined enough to become highly specialized in their trade and knowledge base. An established organization will provide you with an outlet to focus on more specific tasks.

The bureaucracy of a larger company also offers respite from office politics. This isn’t the case everywhere, but the openness in a startup may leave you in the crossfire of opposing viewpoints more often. At a corporate setting, you will be more able to come in, do your work and leave. The lines between job and personal life are also easier to leave distinct.

In many ways, a corporation offers safety nets that startups do not. Most companies offer significant resources, co-workers and leaders with a wealth of knowledge, and a commitment to continuing education. If you enter an organization in a role that isn’t your dream job, you can likely still work to move to a position that is. Moreover, if you make a mistake you’ll have experts ready to help you correct and grow.

Most importantly, a corporate setting will provide far more security in several ways. You will have a better understanding of how your salary will progress. You will have several benefits that some startups will be unable to provide. Finally, you will have a greater sense of security about your job itself. Startups can easily fail and your job lost with it; at an established company, you will feel safer about your long-term future.

Startup Culture

The main benefit to startup workplace culture is how open and transparent it is. This is especially the case for employees interested in being a “jack of all trades.” Employees at a startup will work in a smaller team and thus will pitch in throughout the company. This may involve you working on a project that you don’t have much experience in.

Image of graphic quotation: "You'll have the ability to have contact with the CEO on a regular basis; this is unlikely to be the case at a big corporation"

Startups also offer employees much more access to the decision-makers in a company. You’ll have the ability to have contact with the CEO on a regular basis; this is unlikely to be the case at a big corporation. This means that you might have a bit more to say in what happens. Your ideas will be noticed more easily and often.

However, this transparency does have a downfall. Working at a startup is inherently a risk. At a startup, you won’t have the safety net and ability to ask for help. There’s a good chance you may be the only one in the company performing a job. This means you hold larger responsibility and have broader ground to cover. While this can be a benefit for some who enjoy learning by taking risks, it may not be for everyone.

Startups are also not the best option for those seeking long-term stability. They are more likely to fail and may not be able to offer you everything in salary and benefits that a large corporation will. While the opportunity at a startup may be greater and offer bigger prizes for success, there’s still more instability and a higher chance that it doesn’t work out.

Finding the Right Path for You

The reality of choosing between a startup and a corporate job opportunity is that it depends on what skills and experiences you have and want to gain. With either a Master of Business Administration or a Master in Management and Leadership, you can gain all of the tools and knowledge you need to succeed in whichever environment you choose. Campbellsville University’s online graduate business programs offer students the affordability and convenience they need while also providing flexibility. Learn more about beginning the next chapter of your business career today!