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The Pros & Cons of Working at a Startup vs a Big Company in 2024

working at start up and big company

As students near the end of their school days, they start thinking a lot about what comes next. Whether you want to start your own business or work for a big company, getting ready for your future is super important for doing well. Moving from school to work can feel scary, but if you learn and get ready, you can do great in your career. If you’re thinking about working for a company to get better at what you do, you have a big choice to make: should you work at a new startup or a big, well-known company?

Understanding Startups and Big Corporations

Before we talk about the good and bad parts of each choice, let’s understand what startups and big corporations are.

Startups are usually new companies started by people who want to make something special. In 2022, there were about 50 million new startups in the US alone.

Big corporations, also called “corporates,” are huge companies with many employees. They’ve been around for a while and are well-known. In 2021, there were over 20,000 corporations in the US with 500 or more employees.

Weighing the Pros and Cons: Startup vs. Big Corporation

When deciding between a startup and a big corporation, it’s essential to consider the unique advantages and challenges that each presents.

Working at a Startup


Broad Scope of Work

In a startup, you’re often required to wear multiple hats. This could range from marketing and sales to product development and customer service. You’ll likely be exposed to different aspects of the business, enabling you to gain a wide array of experiences. This can be invaluable in understanding how different facets of a business operate and interconnect.

Close-knit Community

Startups usually have small teams, which means you’ll work closely with everyone. This can make you feel like part of a team, working together with people who do different jobs. It can create a friendly and supportive work atmosphere where everyone’s ideas are important.

Faster Career Progression

Due to their dynamic nature, you might get chances to move up in your career really fast. As the company gets bigger, you might find yourself doing more important jobs and getting promoted quicker than you would in a big company.


Less Financial Stability

Startups are often backed by venture capital and are subject to financial instability. Sometimes they struggle to get enough money or make enough sales, which can lead to worries about losing jobs or the company shutting down.

Intense Workload

The ‘all hands on deck’ approach in startups can mean longer hours and high-pressure situations. This can mean working longer hours and feeling a lot of pressure. It can be tough to find a good balance between work and personal life when you have so much to do.

Working at a Big Corporation


Higher Salaries and Comprehensive Benefits

Corporations typically have the resources to offer competitive salaries and comprehensive benefits, including health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off. These perks can provide a sense of financial security and stability.

Structured Roles

Corporations usually have clear job descriptions and well-defined career paths. This allows you to specialize in a specific area of your field, honing your skills and expertise over time.

Prestigious Name on Your Resume

Working for a reputable corporation can add significant weight to your resume. It signals to future employers that you’ve operated in a professional environment and have been exposed to industry-standard practices.


Slow Decision-Making Processes

Larger corporations tend to have bureaucratic structures, which can slow down decision-making processes. This could lead to frustration if you prefer a more agile and dynamic work environment.

Less Noticeable Contributions

In a large corporation, you might feel like a small cog in a big machine. With so many employees, your individual contributions may not be as noticeable or recognized as they would be in a smaller team.

What Fits You Most? Choosing Between a Startup and a Big Corporation

Deciding between a startup and a big company depends a lot on what you want for your career, what kind of person you are, and how you like to work. Here are some factors to consider:

Risk Tolerance

Startups can be really exciting, but they’re also risky because things can change a lot. If you’re okay with not always knowing what’s going to happen and you like the idea of helping a company grow from the beginning, then a startup could be a great choice for you.

Learning Opportunities

If you like trying out different things and doing lots of different jobs, a startup might be perfect for you. But if you prefer focusing on one thing and having organized training and programs to learn from, a big company could be better.

Work-Life Balance

Startups usually need people to work a lot and do different jobs, which can make it hard to balance work and personal life. If you like having a regular schedule and a set way of working, a big company might suit you better.

Career Progression

If you’re ambitious and eager to climb the career ladder quickly, the fast-paced nature of startups can provide rapid career progression.

But if you prefer having a stable job and knowing what your career path looks like, a big company might be a better choice.

Culture and Environment

Consider the type of work culture and environment you thrive in. If you enjoy a close-knit, collaborative atmosphere with less hierarchy, you might enjoy working at a startup. In contrast, if you prefer a more formal, structured environment with clear hierarchies and procedures, a big corporation might be more appealing.

Making an Informed Decision: Reflect on Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Deciding between a startup and a big corporation is a big deal for your career. It’s not just about how big the company is, but also about whether its culture, pace of work and opportunities match with what you’re good at and what you like.

Both startups and corporations have their own good things and challenges. Startups are often fast-moving places where you can learn a lot and grow quickly. But big companies give you stability, clear paths for your career, and the chance to learn from people who’ve been in the business for a while.

To figure out what’s right for you, think about your own skills and what you like doing. Do you like working in a place where things change a lot and you have to come up with new ideas? Or do you prefer a place where things are more planned out and stable? Knowing what you’re good at and what you need help with can help you make the right choice.

Remember, there’s no one perfect answer to this question. The most important thing is to pick a place where you can grow in your career, do what you’re good at, and get better at what you’re not so good at. That way, whatever path you choose, it’ll help you get better and feel good about your work.


  • RJ Sinclair

    RJ is our resident money guru, with a knack for keeping finances neat and organized. With previous experience as a budget manager in supply chain companies, he brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table. Count on RJ as a trustworthy source for valuable money tips and advice to help you make the most of your financial journey.