Is the Startup a Better Career Move?

Susan Hall

With the major tech companies throwing big money around, those jobs seem really lucrative. But money isn't everything. For some, startups and small companies offer a better fit.


In a story back in 2009, Bill Karpovich, co-founder and CEO of commercial open source software company Zenoss, expressed the opportunities like this:

As much as you can do, you can do it in a small company.

In a piece at VentureBeat, Travis May, head of strategy and operations at Rapleaf, offers three good reasons for going with a startup. (Rapleaf is among the companies at the center of the whole do-not-track debate, but that's for another post.)


May's advice:

  • Take a job where you are a decision maker. He says startups have fewer people to make decisions, so even relatively inexperienced people get to make them. And as you gain experience in making decisions, you get better at it.
  • Find true meritocracy. Larger companies tend to have a career track that you must follow and you can't speed up your career no matter how you try. He says startups are more likely to reward true talent independent of your age. Of course, you'll have to work hard for it, though, and perform well.
  • Love your job. May says it's easier to see his impact, which motivates his work. The hard work then translates into more opportunity to learn, grow and succeed.


In a post at Harvard Business Review, entrepreneur Michael Fertik writes how behaviors from big companies can be damaging at small ones. Here's one echoed in my 2009 article: That you spend more time trying to build influence and direct resources your way than on building your ideas. Fertik writes about your impact:

Larger companies rarely face life-or-death opportunities or threats. Small companies can face them daily. Discovering that your impact at the small company is massive compounds both the excitement and sense of responsibility for people newer to small companies. The most practical way to adapt is to focus on learning to evaluate and trust your judgment as quickly as possible, so that you can both plan and execute along the right path for the company as a whole.

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