Startup VS MNC Company In Singapore: 5 Factors To Decide The Next Step in Your Career

Building an illustrious career requires intention. Your choices can determine your trajectory.

People typically explore two paths. Startups VS MNCs (Multinational Corporations). Traditionally, people favor the stability and established names on their resume. However, startups have since risen to become a popular alternative.

What is The Difference Between MNC and Startup?

Multinational Corporations (MNCs) are large, well-established companies that operate in multiple countries and have a global presence. They typically have a hierarchical structure, established processes, and a focus on stability and growth within their existing markets. MNCs often have significant resources, brand recognition, and a diverse range of products or services.

On the other hand, startups are newly founded companies that aim to develop and bring innovative products or services to the market. They are typically small, agile, and focused on rapid growth and disruption. Startups often operate in a fast-paced and dynamic environment, with a flat organizational structure and a strong emphasis on innovation and risk-taking.

Which One is Better? Startup or MNC?

The decision to pursue a career at a startup or a multinational corporation (MNC) is a highly personal one that depends on various factors. Both paths offer unique advantages and challenges, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Before making this pivotal choice, it’s crucial to carefully evaluate your priorities, goals, and preferences. The following factors will help you weigh the pros and cons of each option and determine the best fit for your career aspirations and lifestyle.

1. Remuneration Package

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At the end of the day, the job has to pay the bill. With MNCs, they have the dough to offer better financial benefits. You can expect to negotiate a higher base salary with additional incentives like commission and bonuses. If you are headhunted, they may be willing to offer stock options to sweeten the deal.

You can expect better employee welfare with big corporations. Some of these generous benefits include:

  • 14-28 days of annual leave.
  • Medical insurance for out-patient and hospitalization.
  • Discounted insurance premium for spouse and children.
  • Leisure/recreational allowance.

In contrast, startups generally offer a lower salary; especially if they are in the early stage of securing funding (Seed/Series A). Having said, you can still get paid fairly with the influx of angel investors nowadays.

Bonuses are uncommon. Most of the revenue will be put into developing the business. However, some startups do offer a carrot – stock options. While little in value early on, these stocks rise in their intrinsic value when the company expands or gets acquired.

The young nature of startups allows more space for negotiation.  Startups compensate for their lack in monetary rewards with better welfare like leadership opportunities, extra days off and personalized training and development.

Also Read: 10 Tips to Negotiate for a Higher Salary in 2023

2. Company Culture (Startup VS MNC)

Culture plays an important role in talent acquisition and retention. Whether someone stays or leaves, depends if they resonate with the company’s beliefs and culture. Here are four characteristic cultures you want to consider before joining a company.

a. Clan Culture

Interpersonal relationships matter. Employees are treated inclusively as part of a bigger family where communication and collaboration are often emphasized. Employees have a strong sense of belonging and resonate with the company’s vision. (E.g. Walt Disney, Tom’s of Maine, Whole Foods, & TOMS shoes).

b. Adhocracy Culture

Everyone has a big appetite for risk. Leaders are eager to challenge assumptions and venture into uncharted waters. Regardless of their position, everyone is encouraged to contribute to innovation. (E.g. Facebook, Google).

c. Market Culture

Getting the job done is number one. Often these results oriented environments are highly competitive. But it pushes a person beyond their current limitations. Best for an accelerated career growth. (E.g. GSK, Tesla, & Amazon).

d. Hierarchical Culture

Processes and procedures are highly valued. There is an established chain of command with every employee tasked with their specific role. You will see this in many Japanese companies as well as the oil and gas, finance, aviation, and government industries. (E.g. Tesco, MUFG Bank & SIA).

Also Read: 5 Useful Tips to Handle Workplace Conflicts

3. Learning Opportunities

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According to a University of Phoenix survey, 64% of working adults report having limited opportunities in their current companies. Hence, most people leave their current post to break out of the stagnation. Good news is whether it is a start-up or MNC, you can expect growth. These two offer significantly contrasting experiences and challenges.

With MNCs, your daily activities revolve around a specific job scope. Give it a year or two, you will be the expert in the matter. However, there is unlikely any chance for growth in skills beyond your assigned scope.

Meanwhile at startups, you wear many hats. You will be exposed to many aspects that you are unfamiliar with. Majority of your work will be outside of your expertise. Things can be changing so fast that you will be unlearning and relearning. Adaptability in this ever-changing environment is key to your success.

4. Leading & Managing Teams

Having leadership qualities is one skill employers look out for. The ability to manage people requires experience. Here’s where you come in.

At startups, you will have more opportunities to lead. Most of the hires tend to be young and inexperienced. They require more handholding and guidance from you. On top of that, you don’t have to worry about plateauing as startups now dedicate resources to send their leaders to be trained and updated in their management skills.

In contrast, you may be competing in an overcrowded market for managerial roles at MNCs. Also, established companies have developed management associate programs to groom their own talents. Unless you have a stellar record, it is not easy to land a managerial role there.

5. Aligning Job Satisfaction & Interests

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Since MNCs and startups have different systems and work culture, it is important to consider if you are a good fit in these companies. You want a place where your values and interests are aligned with what you do. Ask yourself these questions to help you make a decision.

  • Do you like a sense of belonging? At startups, you have a greater opportunity to contribute and be a part of the company’s success.
  • Will you be doing something you love? Maybe you like to be more hands-on in developing a product. At startups, you are more likely to be personally involved than working at MNCs.
  • Want to be a mentor to younger voices? At startups, colleagues can tap on your experience and knowledge. Company culture is more malleable here than at a MNC. Your decisions will have a huge influence on where the company heads toward.
  • Do you prefer stability in your career? Here’s some realistic figures: 90% of startups fail. If you are looking for a good career progression, MNCs definitely have your professional growth charted out for you.


The outlook today. Working at a startup is no longer as disadvantageous than two decades ago. Employers do look for versatility and an all-rounder to bring in fresh perspectives to the table. Still, it’s only in MNCs will you benefit from having a macro perspective on the industry. 

Either way, you can expect to be challenged and grow in different areas. Our advice – More than putting a fancy name on your resume, choose the path that is more aligned with your professional aspirations.

Need some guidance to make the right decision for your career? Speak with one of our consultants today.