Startup VS Corporation by Szymon Janiak


The post was originally published in Polish on Szymon’s LinkedIn profile. Szymon kindly agreed to republish what we think is of great value to our readers.

A startup founder says that they would suffocate in a big corporation. A corporate employee says that the world of naked and cheerful dreamers was acceptable in college. The startup VS corporate discussion is still alive, although I get the impression that it has quite few new arguments.

Startups insist on their superiority over full-time employment in a large organization. They talk about wanting to work by their own rules. They want flexibility, dynamism, change. They want to go to meet-ups, events, conferences. They want to attract investors, travel around the world, shine in the media. At the end of all this, there is to be a reward – selling the company for huge money (which usually doesn’t happen). At the same time, they accept that they don’t have a life and financial stability, that everything can change dramatically over 24 hours. The passion for creation compensates them for everyday problems, e.g. with payments. They love fighting and risk. They love chewing glass.

Corporate employees often have completely different optics. They appreciate the mentioned – and criticized – repetitiveness of their work because they like stability. They see structure in their career path, they realize what promotions entail. They don’t want to fight for survival every day. They are used to living at a high standard and being properly compensated. They prefer an idiot superior over lacking one and having to control the entire ship themselves. They don’t want so much responsibility. They don’t have to save the world – sometimes they simply like what they do and that’s enough for them..

The world of startups is completely different from corporations. It seems like a truism, but it boils down to people and in what they see themselves better. However, instead of convincing others at every step that a given choice is the best, it may be better to give up and simply enjoy the path you have chosen. And the grass will always be greener on the other side.

The comment section has to add:

Szymon Janiak forgets to add that the startup founders ridicule the salaries of a corporal and the possibility of starting a family under normal conditions… oops:) I don’t think that’s how it works. Many corporates dream of starting a startup, but they CANNOT afford it because they have obligations and know that no VC will agree to a USD 20-25k salary for a founder. After all, a startup founder has to chew glass, which means that you can only be one if you are either very young or have a lot of savings or passive income that covers family expenses.

Let’s not demonize – in my experience, most corporates look with envy at startupers. Everything crashes on the money.

Marcin Michalski, Founder at Digital Hunters

I think there are companies and industries where this can be reconciled. Freedom of action combined with creation with job security – sounds like an ideal solution? The world is not black and white = corporate/startup. It is worthwhile to look for your place without compromising.

Maciej Zawadzki, Managing Director at BFI Transport

When I was young, I used to be very anti-corpo. When I recruited for Code Poets, I was saying that we employed those who couldn’t find themselves in a corporation or those who immediately knew that they couldn’t.

However, after years of working on my own company, I kind of appreciate corporations. Sure, they have their limitations: long decision-making processes, fuzzy responsibility, (non)sensical procedures or high inertia that does not allow agility. However, I have matured to say that I will start criticizing the corporations when I manage to build my own – one that does not have these problems.

Adrian Zamorski, Co-Founder and CEO at Code Poets

An interesting look, but probably unnecessarily confrontational. I was lucky that during my dozen or so years of work I saw from the inside both microscopic companies (5 employees) and gigantic international corporations (60k+ people around the world), and a lot in between these extremes. As you point out, there is no point in arguing that a ‘startup’ or ‘corpo’ is the best. Both sides have their pros and cons. The key is to know what works and what does not work in a certain field. And the ability to look at the other side’s solutions that can help make our lawn greener than it is. Especially in situations where the company grows out of a startup and begins to grow. Or when the corporation becomes so stable that it is not ready for any change and the market begins to flee.

Jacek Salacki, Senior Product Manager at Brainly

There are also startups who transfer corporate habits to their own gardens – screwing productivity, watching over growing bars without looking at people, rushing forward without reflection, etc., etc. Busy, chased by themselves and their teams.

Monika Sowińska, Self-Employed Coach, Mentor, Consultant


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