An in-depth comparison of corporate vs. startup developers

startup developer working in his office

TL; DR: This blog article compares the professional side of working as corporate vs. startup developers from a talent perspective. It gives out main reasons why anyone in tech would — and wouldn’t — work for a startup versus doing so for a big corporation. The read is especially aimed at software developers currently considering their work life options.

A common crossroad for developers in their professional journey has to do with their choice of employer — or a lack of one. When choosing away from a freelance lifestyle, however, and deciding to work for an employer, a common question at some point of a developer’s tech journey has to do with choosing between a startup and a big corporation. While the choice may seem like a simple matter of structure versus flexibility, many more considerations fall into place when it comes down to securing a perfect fit.

This blog post is aimed at software developers. We’re giving talent a comparison between the duties that startup developers face compared to those working in a big corporation, so they can better decide what steps to take next.

If you’re personally analyzing where to invest your time and career, we hope our main pros and cons of startups and large corporations in software development from a talent perspective come in handy. We’re starting this article off with the main reasons why developers commonly choose to work in a startup.

Why Work as a Startup Developer?

We’re giving you three of the most common arguments why tech talent chooses to secure a position working in a startup.

#1 An Intense Learning Experience

In a startup setting, developers have continuous access to founders. These are leaders who, with the right mindset, can easily help tech professionals develop their skill set.

Developers also commonly cover several areas in every project in this scenario, which can naturally mean you’ll learn more about different tools and stacks in the long run.

Junior startup programmers, for instance, can quickly experiment in areas that would normally be out of reach at the start of their careers as part of a big corporate environment.

The pace is usually very quick and areas of focus can change swiftly.

#2 Making a More Noticeable Impact

By definition, startups are businesses still in early growth stages and they continuously evolve for a few years. Imagine how many options come around in such a setting to make an impact and create change from a tech standpoint!

Such an agency, however, typically carries more workloads and responsibilities in a developer’s duty list. This might not be the exact 9-to-5 job. But there’s also that added and unique satisfaction of being part of a developing company and seeing the direct outcome of your thoughts, ideas, and overall daily work in great action.

#3 The Growth Potential and Related Speed

As a startup grows, so do startup developers.

We might be looking at a potentially easier time climbing up the professional ladder into senior positions as a starting member of a business that needs to scale.

Why Skip Working in Software Development for Startups?

Yet, it may not all be rainbows and butterflies for everyone working as a software developer in a startup setting. Here’s why some developers would choose not to work in a startup:

#1 Too Many Roles and Responsibilities

While handling different projects at once can help you learn and grow, sometimes the burden may be too much to carry for a startup programmer. Some people like predictability along with a calm and breezy atmosphere as part of their lifestyle! And that’s perfectly okay.

When someone decides to hire developers for a startup, however, they’re normally investing essential starting, seed, or venture capital into crucial roles. As such and as we also said as part of its benefits, it’s possible startups need their tech-savvy talent to constantly shift into new areas of focus, moving their role and responsibilities in the process. Doing so for a prolonged period may be more than some like to handle.

If you’d rather work on secured or single projects for the long-term and devote considerable quality and time to specific needs with little supervision, there may be a need to look for a different niche.

Check out our open positions for exciting US-based projects while you’re at it. We might be a good mutual fit.

#2 Lower Financial and Professional Security

As we saw above, working in a startup on the tech side may mean an uncertain work volume —and its corresponding time and energy investments on a personal side. Part of the variables impacting this work is the dependency startup developers have on executive decisions. All startups may need to make high level decisions of wide impact at any point of their growth stages to keep scaling. At times, they need to do so to at least keep operating. That may at any point work in our detriment, if needed.

Depending on your compensation agreement, potential downtimes may also cause income fluctuations. These financial factors need to be taken into account for a developer startup position.

Projects may also exceed or range below your level of expertise and/or experience at any point in this setting.

#3 The Amount and Quality of Benefits

As we said, most startups don’t usually start off with a wealthy budget. Consider how that impacts their ability to provide impressive and long-term benefits to their teams. Ingenuity, intention, and care all matter here, of course, and perfectly suitable deals definitely come around in this sector.

Yet, the common reality of starting a business is simply needing to cut back on spending as much as possible. Being a startup developer is thus often analogous to missing medical and dental with no or little copays, for instance, as much as a narrow offer in terms of employee discounts or programs, cashback plans, gym or other type of memberships and perks.

Company shares or stock, however, are usually thrown around more often if you’re into that approach to doing business.  

Why Developers Choose Big Companies

So, why would developers go for big corporations? Maybe quite the opposite.

Here are three of the main reasons for working in larger, established companies.

#1 Salary & Benefits

Stable pay might be large corporations’ biggest appeal. Not only will you be sure you’re getting your paycheck at the end of the month, you’re also enjoying medical, dental, and other health and entertainment benefits or luxury bonuses.

#2 Well-Defined Roles

Forget about juggling different roles here, too! In this world, developers can commonly focus — exclusively — on their top skills. Here, you’re commonly hired with a well-defined role description that sets you in a specific area of work for the long run. Your tasks are generally quite clear.

#3 Work-Life Balance

Tied to above, large companies tend to work on a fixed or flexible schedule, but with a set amount of daily, weekly, and/or monthly hours or objectives. The beauty of a 9-5 job —and even better yet, of a flexible schedule one, such as ours — is being able to clock out to enjoy your time off.

People with big families who like to plan personal times around a set number of vacation days every year with paid time off and other perks can naturally find this scheme to be a plus side to their career development. That’s also perfectly okay.

At Nearsure, we offer paid leaves and holiday swaps as per our talent’s legislative country. Remote work should be no disruption to a great work-life balance for us. On the contrary, in a 250+ company such as our own, benefits are part of our People Care Team’s main concerns.

#4 Easy Access to Leadership and Making Contributions

Corporations are also commonly criticized for their hierarchical filters and top-down approach with a set organizational structure. The claim is that, in this arrangement, it can sometimes be harder for top management to have access to everyone’s thoughts, feedback, and ideas.

The above is also the main reason why we encourage and ensure and open-door policy for our working environment that’s built on transparent and open communication. Having a fixed and integrated team is a part of that developer experience for us, but we hear that’s not the industry standard, anymore.

The Bottom Line in This Comparison

In the end, the thrill of working for an established and well-sustained corporation is different than doing so for a startup. So, what should be your preferable working style? The only right answer for us is:

The choice depends on your preferences, skills, interests, and needs. 

Perhaps the main point of comparison in this consideration is all about efficient and steady productivity over change, innovation, and versatility. But it doesn´t have to be!

At Nearsure, we attempt to combat developer discouragement or feeling of stagnation with an ability to face new and challenging projects that make a difference in our region, for example.

So, what do you think? Should you join other startup developers for the thrill and cost of building something new, or sign up for the corporate world to be a part of something steadier with many more team members around? Let us know below.

Also, could we be a perfect fit? Check out our job opportunities to find out!