How Your Life Changes When You Move from a Corporation to a Startup

Adina Dincă
The UnWork Journal
Published in
6 min readJul 25, 2017


Almost 3 months ago I changed my corporate job for a startup one, and it is one of the best things I’ve ever done. The change was a long time coming, and I always knew I didn’t fit within the rigid structures of corporations, although it did take me a long time to finally take the plunge.

There’s a lot of different opinions about corporations and startups. Some say corporate jobs are more secure, better paid, but perhaps stifling, while startups might be more free spirited, but chaotic, and you never know if you’ll still have a job in a few more months.

What are the real differences between these two types of employment and how is working in a startup different from working in a corporation?

  1. There is more flexibility

My favourite part about working in a startup is that there is a lot more flexibility. You can start your work at any hour you would like, provided you are able to coordinate with your colleagues. You can build your own working space, according to your needs. One day you might want to work from home, another from the park or the coffee shop, and yet another from a different city. What’s important is the quality of what you do.

One day you might work fewer hours, and another you might be so engaged in what you’re doing do that you’re still there well past your regular hours. There’s variety, and that keeps things interesting.

You can also be expected to take on different roles, and you need to get very clear with yourself on the roles you are good at and enjoy filling, and those that don’t suit you and drain the focus from those things where you really shine. A startup encourages you to figure out your ideal working conditions and take charge of your work life. And there is a flip side to that.

2. There is a lot more responsibility

Woops! The beta wasn’t supposed to be released yet??!

In a startup, there is no one babysitting you. And that is great! But some people might find it a bit stressful as well, especially those who enjoy working in corporations, where everything is generally a lot more structured.

From day one, it’s all hands on deck. There’s no one telling you what to do. If you’re the designer, then you’re THE designer. Other colleagues and your CEO can give you input regarding what you do, but you’re the captain of your own ship, in the end. You’re the one coming up with ideas and deciding what stays and goes, based on your experience.

Depending on the project you’re working on, you might need to put in more hours some days. There’s also no one else that can fill in your role at a moment’s notice, so, if you’re needed, you’re there.

You need to know how you work best, and take care of yourself. Startups work best for those inclined to take responsibility and it’s great if you choose a startup that has a goal you really believe in. It will motivate you. You also need to take care not to reach a point of burnout. It’s your responsibility to manage your way of working, and get organized.

3. Your ideas can be heard

In a startup, if you have an idea, it will be heard. It’s the perfect place for creative people, too. And, as everything tends to happen so quickly, if your team thinks your ideas are valuable, they will be put in practice very fast, and you’ll have the chance to see how those ideas really work and draw the necessary conclusions right away.

Much too often talent is lost in corporations. There’s just so many people, and so many levels of managers, with so many different interests, that most ideas are shot down before ever getting a chance to take off.

4. There is less bureaucracy

And what a breath of fresh air that is. If you need the approval to implement a change, your request won’t be sent for months on end around different departments. You won’t need to fill 100 forms.

It helps working directly with the CEO, too. They’re not some person you don’t know, somewhere far. They’re the ones working close with you, usually feeling the most invested and being the most motivated. And because there is less bureaucracy, something else occurs.

5. Change happens a lot faster

You’ve been working less than 24 hours and you already influenced how the company logo will look like. 3 days ago there was no social media presence to speak of, and now you have an active little beehive. It’s energizing, and it’s fun. Change happens fast, and growth happens very fast. There’s no time to get bored. A startup is a living, breathing, growing organism, and it evolves right before your eyes. And you can have a say in the way it grows. It becomes your baby, too, which is why it’s easier to become engaged in your work. A startup is the perfect avenue for you to unleash all your potential and figure out many things about yourself and how you work and live best, in the process.

6. The team is like a family

In the best startups, team members are hand-picked with care, and, because of that and the common goal, the team tends to become quite close-knit. The team is usually smaller, too, and it’s easier to get everyone together every now and then.

Having the huge variety of people that corporations involve is not bad either, but, generally speaking, it works better when a team leader picks their own team members, maybe with advice. There’s a higher chance of the team working harmoniously together.

In corporations, it’s often HR people choosing almost anyone with “on paper” skills that seems to fit. There’s a lot more to the dynamics between people than on paper qualities, and everyone is different and works best with different people.

7. It’s the perfect environment to experiment

Did you always want to try your hand at video-making? Event planning, recruiting or training? A startup is the perfect place to experiment and develop your different skills. You can always try different things in addition to your main job, because there’s always a need for a diversity of abilities and passions in a startup.

Self-development is also like an intense crash course in a startup. The environment is so much more dynamic, and you have the freedom to try different things and learn from them, and you also need to adapt and learn different skills, like time management, organizing yourself, taking responsibility and being in charge of your projects. Even if you wouldn’t want it, this experience would make you grow 10 times the amount in a corporation over the same period of time.

Those are a few of the differences between working in a startup and working in a corporation. After making the change, I could never go back to working in a corporation. I need the freedom to experiment, and see my ideas grow quickly.

How about you? Do you prefer working in a corporation, or a startup, and why?

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Adina Dincă
The UnWork Journal

Writer and traveler, published on Thought Catalog.