Million $$ Question: To Startup or not to Startup?

“The journey, not the arrival matters.” – T.S. Eliot.

About 8 years in the corporate world and few months into the startup world, one question that I get asked repeatedly is – to startup or not to startup?

Short Summary: You cannot decide till you actually try it. In my opinion, there are pros and cons to both the worlds and it is only the journey and how you enjoy the ride that matters in the end.

Pros of the corporate world:

  • You interact with really talented colleagues, agencies and customers across geographies
  • No textbook can teach you cross cultural understanding, managing virtual teams, and expose you to different market dynamics better than a good corporate experience
  • You learn the importance of robust systems and processes, and the need to be ahead of the curve all the time
  • You get to manage several hundred K’s (even millions) dollars budgets, and multi-million dollars of business
  • With the right company and location, you can strike good work-life balance. But be prepared for surprises as it will vary from country to country (even within the same company)
  • Your business card slowly becomes your identity
  • If you land in the right role, then your job starts to resemble the “Up in the air” corporate life. You are always flying around, new cities, meeting clients, checking in at fancy restaurants and automatically connecting to airlines lounge wifi’s

Cons of the corporate world:

  • Hundreds and thousands of conference calls and meetings. You are on conference calls in a mall, supermarket, airport and everywhere else
  • You are a small cog in the giant wheel. Can be important but disposable
  • Unknowingly you get caught up in a race at some point or the other (When other colleagues get kudos, promotions, pay hikes or better performance reviews)
  • And the above two points, will lead you into an endless comparison loop and you get sucked into it (I know and admire few colleagues who have managed to stay out of it, but I think they are exceptional individuals in general)

Pros of the startup world:

  • Customer is king, and you truly believe in this
  • Zero hierarchy and you get to make several big decisions. Free riders can’t hide
  • You grow as an individual and as a leader. You know the pulse of the business better than everyone else
  • There is help on offer. Several friends, experts, and government agencies want to help you succeed
  • Although this list looks short, you draw immense satisfaction, passion and love from what you do – each and every second of it

Cons of the startup world:

  • Uncertainty around everything – investors, business, inventory, products, competition, pay. (Repeat it 3-5 times)
  • One may end up learning the hard way but eventually, you do learn!
  • You can be a struggling entrepreneur for a long time, and only ones who will be able to empathize with you are other entrepreneurs. Everyone else will start questioning – Why? 🙂

In my opinion, both are amazing career moves and my advise will be to try both. In this day and age of opportunities, we are lucky to have these options and we should make the most of them! After all this, we will anyways become experts and can join consulting 😉

Do share your thoughts below or alternatively let’s continue the discussion on Twitter: @MarketingRags