This week, we will address a question that we get regularly. We receive this question from students in their 20s, peers in their 50s, and people in between.

The growth of startup culture all around the world is driving more people to consider joining or even starting their own.

Just so you know, we will be making some generalizations. These generalizations are made to help frame your decision-making process while still realizing that each startup can be unique.

Evaluate Your Skills

As we have discussed before, we recommend that you first evaluate your skills, motivators, and interests using the terminology from the CareerLeader assessment. This will help you understand if you are a match.

For example, suppose you are highly motivated by security or have a personal situation requiring high security. In that case, startups may not be a good match, as 90 percent fail.

Or, if you decide to start a startup, look for ways to mitigate your risk and potential stress related to the uncertainty.

This is just one example. Another would be if your skills align with team management; you may be an individual contributor or manager of a small team in early-stage startups.

You could still do well in a startup, but it is best to be aware of potential mismatches before you join.

Preferred Growth Path

Also, there are different development opportunities in startups versus multinational companies (MNCs). MNCs usually provide more development opportunities related to policies, procedures, and governance.

MNCs need very defined structures to manage the size and breadth of activities. If publicly traded, these structures can be legislated as well.

Also, MNCs will usually have more structured employee development training. The development is likely more hands-on for startups with greater responsibilities and projects.

Before you join a startup, think about whether you are the type of person who always reads the instructions manual or just starts pushing buttons to try to figure it out.

From Startups to MNCs

There are several things that we will need help to cover here. Compensation, branding, and the ability to move into an MNC later are common questions.

Several of these items do not represent barriers to future career moves but may require additional explanations.

For example, if you are joining an MNC from a startup, you might have to explain why your base pay was lower and that you had equity or other benefits.

Or you may have to explain what the company does as it will likely not be common knowledge.


To recap, whether a startup is proper for you depends on your profile and whether it matches the startup culture.

In general, startups are higher risk, less structured — requiring more adaptability to fill gaps, and with fewer layers of management approval needed for decisions.

Depending on your profile, this environment can be highly energizing or frustrating. We hope this insight is helpful to your decision.

Learn more about developing a winning résumé, building a solid network, and other insights on professional growth from our regular Career Tips series.