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Working for a startup vs an established business

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Written by Jamie Crowley

One of the main discussions I have with developers when they are looking for their next role is the type of company they want to work for.

A lot of this involves talking about the company’s industry. For example, I know a lot of people really enjoy working for a Fintech whereas others may prefer the fast-paced environment of a digital agency or something along those lines. I have found that people are understandably more open minded since Covid-19 as opportunities are at a premium and developers don’t have as many options as they would have done 5 / 6 months ago.

However one thing that always comes up is how someone feels about working for a startup in comparison to a larger / more established company. It seems to be that most people have a preference either way and typically steer away from the other when possible.

But why is this?

There are definitely pros and cons to both, and I want to clarify that the notes below are solely from personal experience of working in both types of companies myself as well as recruiting engineers for them. Personally, I would class a startup as a business that is less than three years old and an established business that has been running for 5+ years and has at least 50 staff.

Startups

  • A lot of junior / mid developers seem to prefer a startup environment as it allows them to get access to different areas of the tech stack as it tends to be ‘all hands on deck’

  • A company that has formed more recently will tend to have a more modern tech stack to work with

  • You get the chance to work closely with Founders, CTO’s and Lead Engineers etc

  • It is important to do research (especially now) into the company to ensure they are in a secure position financially

  • Benefits / Salaries can often suffer as the companies don’t necessarily have the same amount of funds as a larger business

Bigger companies

  • Salaries & benefits are often more competitive

  • Clearer progression paths for new recruits

  • Working for a bigger company can (sometimes unfairly) reflect well on your CV when you decide to make your next move

  • Processes are often more defined, and the code base is a lot easier to navigate & make changes to

  • In contrast to the last point, it can sometimes be more difficult to make changes in a larger company as there are more people to run it by etc

As I said earlier, these are all generalizations and every single company is different. Having said that, I’m really keen to get your views.

Personally, I do prefer working in a startup like Amicus. I find that it helps me to build stronger relationships with my colleagues and the levels of flexibility & support are fantastic.

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