Company Culture: Start Up vs Corporate culture

Would you work for a start up if you wanted to? It’s a great way to get started, but launching and growing a start up isn’t for everyone. Some are naturally suited to it.

It’s essential to find a place to work that has both innovative and collaborative company cultures. While start ups are more creative, they also tend to be young and face-paced.

You must be able to excel in such an environment in order to succeed.

On the other hand, corporations are more established, more formal, and more hierarchical. You will have to learn the basics of working within a corporate environment.

However, you can still thrive by bringing the innovation and collaboration you learned from a startup environment to the corporation.

The Difference between Start Up and Corporate Culture

Start up and corporate environments are different. This applies to your company’s size and the type of skills required, yet specific characteristics will be universal.

Start Up Culture

Start up culture is one where employees are treated fairly and encouraged to be creative. Start-ups are often small, so employees can build solid friendships and connections when they have to work.

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In a start up environment, employees are expected to share essential and valuable information with peers, and they’re able to make decisions quickly.

While it’s true that start up culture is informal, it’s important to remember that there is still a hierarchy that must be respected. The founders and high-ups have to be seen as the company’s backbone.

Corporate Culture

Corporate environments can be very structured and formal. Because it’s common for a company to have thousands of employees, it’s not uncommon for employees to not know the people on their team or in other departments. This can make it challenging to build relationships, which can impact the ability to get ideas heard.

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Corporates can sometimes adopt a more rigid approach to innovation, leading to more staid, less innovative products. A more creative approach to innovation can help lead to a more innovative company.

To find the best work environment for you, you’ll need to consider the following traits.

You Are Suited for Start Up Culture if…

You like change

You want to work in a firm with a fast-paced, ever-changing environment. Change is good, and you like to work through ambiguity and wear several hats at work. If this sounds pleasing to you, consider a start up.

If you’re considering a start up, it’s crucial to evaluate your prospective employer’s culture before you sign on the dotted line.

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If a start up culture is a little unsettling, it’s best to leave that uncertainty at the door. It’s always best to look beyond the company culture to the individual working with you.

You Don’t Shy Away From Responsibility

You know when you’ve become too comfortable in a position. The day you stop feeling responsible is the day you no longer care.

A start up can be a lot of work, but if you’re willing to take on the company’s responsibility and your role, you’ll be ready for any challenge.

But it’s not for everyone. If you don’t like working in a high-pressure environment, you should consider a corporate role.

However, in the current high-pressure climate, teamwork and responsibility are essential to be successful. It might be more your speed if you’re more comfortable with flexible roles.

The flexibility of working in a start up environment can be an asset, but it can also lead to frustration.

A new employee in the start up environment must quickly learn the ropes, but learning versus the slow process of climbing the corporate ladder is a big difference.

You’re Passionate About Your Work

In a start up environment, budgets are often tight, and teams tend to be small. This can be a stressful situation. The best way to excel in a start up is to allocate a certain amount of time for work and make sure that you’re getting compensated correctly.

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While compensation is undoubtedly significant, it is not the only reason individuals choose to work at a company or in a particular industry. Passion for the work you’re doing or the mission your company is pursuing is also a key factor.

It is easy to put up with the inherent uncertainties of start up life when you are passionate about your work or the mission your company is pursuing.

Corporate Culture Could Be Right For You If…

You want a work-life balance

Start up employees are expected to work long or unusual hours. Not everyone has time to be busy all the time. But when it comes to work-life balance, many people appreciate having the choice to work in a flexible way.

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If you prefer a 9-to-5 role, then corporate could be a fit for you.

It is a fact that your hourly rate will play a massive role in your life, and it is worth considering. It will also dictate how you spend your time.

You value compensation

Most start-ups fail. The reality is, it takes time to gain traction. A start-up isn’t the right choice for all people — and it’s no guarantee of success, either. You will still find fulfilment in your work as long as you remain true to your passion.

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Fortunate entrepreneurs can build their ventures in a reasonable amount of time. Unfortunately, they can’t offer competitive salaries or benefits.

At a corporation, you should expect to make a decent wage and benefits package.


Start-ups and corporations are not mutually exclusive. Companies need to innovate to stay competitive. To do this, they need to build teams of highly skilled workers.

If you’re interested in working for a company that wants to innovate more quickly, then you may have what it takes to work in a start-up environment.

About the Author

Eugen Spivak is a multi-award-winning author, business strategist, and a business coach. Eugen is the founder of the Canadian Institute of International Business, an organization focused on a better way to learn business!

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