Should you work for the big boys or the smaller startups?


After spending about 4 years to get your degree, you will naturally feel that you are ready to take on the world. After all, you did your best to reach that academic goal and finished at the top of your class and you feel that you now have what it takes to make it in the industry.

The tough choice

The main issue really is, now that you have the degree you worked so hard for, where should you go? There are many options but the obvious ones are:

  1. Work for an established firm – This is the standard pathway. People study and graduate to get into a good company with a good job. You studied accounting so you would want to get into the Big 4 don’t you?
  2. Go for a smaller startup – You can think about this path if you are entrepreneurial in your own way. Working for a small startup doesn’t mean you small in any way. It could mean big opportunities because you get to take on roles with more responsibilities

First, the big companies

Here, the options are obvious. You are looking to work with companies with names that everyone can resonate to. Shell, Petronas, Starbucks, Standard Chartered, Deloitte, Sime Darby and the likes. The main reason why these companies are so popular mainly because our earlier generation (parents and grandparents) know them.
In simple terms, they are very well established which means they will look really good in your CV and if you are looking for another job later. In fact, getting into a large firm at the start of your career seemed like the best thing that can happen to you. But what is it you are signing up for?

  1. Benefits – Not all big companies give you great benefits. You get standard returns like medical and annual leave. Some companies have good bonuses and even education for your children.
  2. Job scope – Pretty much fixed. This means that you know from Day 1 what you should be doing but that means you pretty much do the same thing for a while, which might become mundane after a while
  3. Network – In large companies, you get to meet people from the same industry and at times build a stronger network along the way
  4. Politics – The larger the company, the more there will be politics. Bureaucracy will be at its highest levels.

Now for the smaller startups

Smaller companies are often coined under the SME category. In Malaysia, it has been reported that SMEs accounts for more than 95% of the established businesses. So, if you are ready to take this plunge, then you could be in for the following:

  1. Good opportunities – One thing for sure, you could for sure find more employment opportunities in this sector. After all, SMEs make up more than 65% of employment in Malaysia. It might not be as competitive as big corporations.
  2. Benefits – They might not be as good as the big companies but they have the minimum of what you are eligible for. In fact, some smaller setups could give you more benefits because they are still new
  3. Job scope – You will start with a standard job scope but it will not be as rigid. In fact, you will find yourself wearing multiple hats at certain time of your work. This means you get to learn new skills and knowledge along the way.
  4. Innovation – You get to do things quite differently in small startups. In fact, they promote a lot of innovation and creativity because they are all about maximizing your potential and getting the job done in the best possible way.
  5. Salary – Your salary might not be as good as the big boys but at least you get to learn things you cannot in those firms

What’s the plan then?

Choosing either one seemed to have their benefits. Having said that, you should consider being open about whichever company you start with. There is never a best plan. It depends on what you want and how you want to get there. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, then a smaller setup might suit you because it will lay out the opportunities in the future.

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