'Startups vs Corporations, which is better to work at?’ This debate seems to have been going for as long as we can remember. Turns out, there is no right or wrong answer. Startups have a different culture and approach to work than an enterprise would, where someone would fit better just depends on a person’s personal work-style and expectations. To try and understand a bit better what exactly working for a newly established startup is like, we got Sarah AlSatrawi to share her experience of working as the Ecosystem Manager, at Nest , the largest operator of corporate innovation programs across Asia and Africa, which is currently expanding to Bahrain.
From your experience what are the perks of working at startups as opposed to larger companies?
The flexibility that comes with working at a startup is the main thing that comes to my mind. Your workload can also be diverse and unpredictable, as it can peak in certain weeks and then drop for a few days, it's almost never repetitive. The freedom to involve yourself in one of the many projects at your startup means you get to explore multiple stakeholders and build your knowledge and understand what your strengths are. On the other hand, it also means less standardized work and building many things from scratch, including, sometimes the not so exciting paperwork or government registrations!
Since startups are either just establishing or growing operations and tend to have smaller teams, how does that affect the workload or responsibilities? Is it more intimidating?
It can be intimidating at first, however, the advantage of working with a small team is how approachable everyone from the founder to an intern is and how linear the structure is. Start-ups also are relatively more understanding of a culture of learning from mistakes and failures, resulting in the team being your support system and teachers as you grow.
What are the challenging things about working for a startup?
Positioning your brand/product/service can be very challenging especially at early stages, when you're passionately talking about the company that many people don't know of. The structure of work can also get challenging, when a startup is growing and is handling more projects than it's used to, you find the team biting more than they can chew and therefore these talents get a burnout and exhausted faster. Proper talent capacity planning is needed to avoid this issue.
A lot of people seem to consider working at startups as unstable or insecure. What would you say to that? Did you have these concerns starting off?
Job security and stability is every Bahraini’s dream. When you're working at a startup, your level of ownership towards the success of the company is intensified, because the company's success is more directly in your control compared to that of a corporate. ‘Your productivity = successful startup = better job security’. So if you're looking to work in a place without investing your time directly into your job security a startup is probably a bad idea for you.
What should fresh graduates expect from working at startups?
Expect your learning curve to exponentially grow, you're not going to be doing one thing until you're the expert at it. Instead, startups will provide you the space to innovate and create your own work, experiment ideas and fail. But my advice would be that you have to be a proactive achiever for you to fit in the startup culture, you're going to be part of a team with a shared vision and quite busy people so you'll need to proactively provide solutions and grow the company and your experience at the same time.