What are some of the benefits of working for a startup vs. an established company? Are there any?

3.4k views37 Upvotes27 Comments

CTO in Transportation, 11 - 50 employees
Independence, setting your own path and being able to set directions and change course much faster than with an established company.
Founder & CEO in Software, 2 - 10 employees
I have been building tech startups since 2004. It's a disease! ūüėā
Director of Marketing, Self-employed
Startups need someone who can do everything. Big companies have someone for everything. If you want learn every aspect of a role (play all the positions) and have a more direct/immediate impact on the success of a company, startup is the way to go. If you want stability, a semblance of security, and a clearly defined job role/responsibilities, larger companies can provide that. 
VP of Supply Chain in Transportation, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
From experience, a start-up has less "red tape" and from a consulting perspective only; there is a unique opportunity to provide more value-added services. The right expertise predicated on a relationship of trust is readily embraced.
Director of Sales IT Company in IT Services, 11 - 50 employees
Speed ‚Äč‚Äč& agility are among the aspects that are seen as the most frequent in Startups, on the other hand, if you don't have well-defined processes and methods, the time you gain in some points can be easily lost in other points.
Director of Sales IT Company in IT Services, 11 - 50 employees
Definitely the possibility of quickly acquiring a broad view of what processes are necessary for a company to have a life of its own.
Associate Vice President in Services (non-Government), 1,001 - 5,000 employees
Both have their own challenges, advantages, learning and excitement.
CDO in Software, 10,001+ employees
Definetely is a different value proposition to the employee, if you get early the upside on equity might be large but also has a larger risk. I do enjoy the fast pace of decision making while also acknowledging that the structure and governance of larger organizations provide more predictability. If the startup is working with emerging technologies it could be a great experience to learn how to monetize it and be able to then do that in other companies. Definitely depends if it a early stage, mid stage or pre-IPO, that also changes the way you will experience the adventure.
Sustainable Supply Chain Adviser in Healthcare and Biotech, Self-employed
The majority said the basic differences, so that's covered. I'd add that the benefits vs struggles greatly depend on the personality and the perception of these differences.
Some thrive in a startup environment, some cannot even process it.
As long as someone is clear on what they want to gain (experience, exposure to different networks etc), then they can make the most of it both ways.
If someone has only been in specialist roles and want to get hands on experience in a broad array of functional expertise, then startup is the way. Then they can change professional gear from there. :)
Fractional CFO in Construction, 2 - 10 employees
The obvious financial benefit is stock options (if they are offered). If the company does well, it can mean significant financial reward. But there's also a risk if the company does not do well and run out for money.   

As for the work and culture - the usual startup fast pace, independence, and "build from the ground up" can be a benefit to some, but a nightmare for others. Startups require a "builder" mentality while established companies require the "maintain and improving" way of thinking.  It all depends what one's interests and strengths are. 

The benefits are in the eyes of the beholder.


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CTO in Software, 201 - 500 employees
Without a doubt - Technical Debt! It's a ball and chain that creates an ever increasing drag on any organization, stifles innovation, and prevents transformation.
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