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A friend asked me for advice: startup or big company

Last week a friend called me looking for advice.

He was working on his own thing for the past year or so but it hasn’t really taken off. Now, his personal life requirements make it necessary that he joins a company in the near future.

He has an offer to join a few different startups or take a senior role in a large established company.

His question: Should I do the startup or big company? And one day I want to work for a venture back startup again so will the big company thing help or hurt for my next thing?

My response:

-First, I asked if he loved any of the startups. His answer: not really

-Then I asked if he liked the people at the big company and would he learn a lot and have the opportunity to be successful. His answer: yes.

This was the easiest call I’ve had in sometime. I told him to take the big company gig.

Look, I love startups.

But the reality is that they are hard, risky and stressful. I believe you should only join a startup if you are inspired and love the vision, people and product. And you will have far more responsibility in a startup than in any large company position. That’s the beautiful stuff you get back in return for risk.

Of course, there is huge potential upside if the options become valuable at some point – but that shouldn’t be the primary reason for joining a startup.