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Making the Switch: Part 3 Moving from a large corporation to a startup

A couple of weeks ago, we discussed the differences of making the switch from a Japanese company to an American company and to a European company. We found that the business culture, the way in which decisions are made, and the work-life balance varied between each type of company.

In addition to the cultural differences across the three types of companies, another factor you should take into consideration when job hunting is whether or not moving from a large corporation to a startup is right for you. To help make your decision a little easier, here are some factors to take into account while looking for your next job.


In large firms, the business processes are often set in their ways. This doesn’t mean that it is slow or boring, more that they often fall into a comfortable rhythm as most of the issues that start-ups run into are smoothed out. However, in a startup, you will run into problems you’ve never faced before, which is not necessarily a bad thing, it can make work quite exciting. If you are someone who enjoys facing new work demands everyday, then maybe consider looking into working for a startup.


Startups also have the ability to make decisions much quicker than large corporations as employees don’t need to schedule meetings well in advance to discuss a new project. It is much easier to get approval for something, ask a question or get feedback on a project from the CEO when they work on the same floor as you. Compare this to a large corporation, you will be lucky if the CEO even works in the same building!

Additionally, employees at startups usually have various responsibilities and work on a number of tasks as they generally have much fewer staff than a corporate firm would. Where in a corporate office you are most likely placed in one department to focus on a single product or service, in a startup you will most likely be handling multiple projects under different departments. This offers a great learning opportunity to gain additional skills. Alternatively, if you prefer to specialize in a niche area rather than working across multiple areas then a startup may not be the best match for you.


Startups typically have a limited budget during their early years, meaning employees must learn to be more resourceful. Established firms likely have more resources, which will mean a larger budget, as well as more employees to help contribute with the workload. This is not the case in a startup, where efficiency and creativity is a must in order to solve problems.


It can be harder to garner real impact in a corporate company that has hundreds of employees and even harder to stand out. At a startup company, not only are you more likely to have an impact on the company, but you’ll be able to do so in a variety of areas in the business. You would be able to contribute to key decisions and will be a main factor of whether or not the company is a success in the long run. However, in a large corporation, especially if your firm is big enough to be an international business, your organization as a whole can create a much larger impact on society than a small startup. Startups have the potential to grow and make a big lasting impact, however it may take years to do.


One of the great things about a startup is that it is still forming its culture and values, and if you start at the company early enough you may even have a chance to help mold them. Where as most corporate firms are known as being stiff, formal and with a dress code, most startups are the exact opposite. Many startups have an open layout, a more relaxed hierarchy and sometimes employees get to dress in business casual attire. If you are tired of wearing a 3-piece suit everyday to the office, and want a more laid back, less corporate culture, maybe consider looking into a startup!


One of the downsides to switching to a startup can be a lack of stability. Larger firms are well established,  so the chance that the company will fail is considerably lower than in a startup where there is a higher probability of failure. Moreover, there may be certain benefits that a startup could not afford to offer its employees, whereas a large corporate firm would have the budget to do so.

Conquering the unknown and taking risks is what startups are all about, so if that sounds like your dream job, consider applying at a startup.


  • You’ll face new challenges everyday at a startup, which can make the workplace an exciting place to be.

  • Corporate firms offer greater widespread impact, but offer little for individual impact.

  • Startups usually offer a more relaxed, less hierarchical work environment.

  • Are you risk averse or a risk taker? Knowing the difference could help you decide if working at a startup is right for you.

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