Corporate or Startup? What’s right for you?


The grass is always greener on the other side …or is it?

Small nimble startups are working to become great big brands. And great big brands aspire to be small nimble start ups. And the people who work in them are looking through the same fence.

CPG giant Mondelez feels the need to incubate startups because it finds it hard to innovate on their own, according to Digiday.

And Coca Cola’s Bachir Zeroual, Global Director of Marketing Ventures says, “We were amazed by how small companies can build so fast a single product or a platform …. We realized that… we had a lot to learn from them about how they solve problems in a flexible way, how they can be nimble in their approach to market, how they learn from their failures and tests and iterate.”

In my work I meet small org staffers who sigh for the robustness of corporate structure: the imagined resource-richness and freedom from the budget and bandwidth constraints of smallness. And I meet enterprise folk who dream of being free to execute what they think of as and when they think of it without the frustrations and roadblocks of management levels and budget approvals.

So is the grass really greener on one side than the other? It’s pretty simple for our sheep – but not so much for you.  I have said, only half joking, that I work with people who want to get into Disney and people who want to get out of Disney. Their quests are valid for them  – but the answer for each of us lies not on one side or the other – but in a synthesis that importantly includes our own unique personal qualities and drivers.  Neurobiology tells us that the hope/anticipation/dopamine release will likely lead you to believe that crossing over will solve all your problems.  Especially if there is only a 50/50 chance and you are not actually sure. But when you get there you will find that the change was not a magic bullet.  There are realities that can be uncovered in advance by talking to actual people in the environments you find attractive – see what they have to say.  I could predict what you will find – but go ahead: do it for yourself.   Ask smart questions.  It’s not about the structure or size as much as it is about you and how you will be stimulated and supported.  How you will respond to this new environment. And you are unique – you’re not just a sheep that follows the fad or the conventional wisdom.  So find out the truth: the good, the bad and the ugly. Figure out whether you will flourish – not in the abstract but in light of actual information.  And see what makes sense to you – for you.