I have two offers. One for a technology startup and one for an established consumer goods brand. Which one should I choose?

I'm super torn. I feel fortunate to have two offers, but I'm not sure which path to take. I don't want to share too many company specifics but the startup has about 60 people and decent funding. The big company is an established consumer package goods brand. The title of both roles are marketing coordinator. The salary offers are super similar, so that's not a factor.

What are the pros/cons of going with the startup? The big company? Any words of wisdom on how to think about this? I can weigh in with more info if this isn't enough.



One thing I'd like to add is that large companies have more opportunities for growth and movement. Early in your career, this is pretty important in case you change your mind or find another area of the business that excites you.

Great value question. You can mitigate the risk of a start-up by knowing whether or not the start-up is providing any real value to the masses - broad appeal and desired. Many start-ups have a weak product or service whose appeal fizzles after the capital runs out. If you don't understand what they are doing or don't believe in it, the risk versus reward is too great. So, when is the risk worth it? It is worth it when it provides job experience you need to make another step in your career. In these cases you go in knowing that what you want is the experience and not the career. BUT - have a 14 month plan. Don't wait for the company to burn through the capital and fold. Know when you have gotten the value you wanted/needed and be prepared to move on. Caution - many people think that start-ups are the new California gold rush. They are. You know, strike it rich. And just like the historical gold rush in California many people didn't get anything financially. The got the experience of going across the country to work their butts off in the mines and creeks and enjoy our great outdoors. Hmm. Given the great outdoors here in California that's not so bad after all. :-)

Aside from the great points already made here, you might ask yourself - does the startup have a mission you really believe in? Part of getting comfy with the risk is knowing that the mission the startup is on is something you feel connected to. Another thing to consider is the startup leadership - does the founder and/or leadership team have a solid track record?

I actually just had this conversation with a friend who is deciding between two offers: being the first non-engineer hire at a startup or joining an established B2B brand. Here are the three questions I told him to try and answer:

**1) Are you more risk loving or risk averse?**
Startups, even ones with 60 employees, will have a significant amount of risk involved. The value of the options in your offer could end up being worth $0 (statistically the most likely option), a couple thousand (a common outcome), or could give you "F*** you" money for the rest of your life (super rare but possible option). Ultimately, if you join a startup, you have to be comfortable knowing that you're taking a gamble, and turning down the established CPG company means losing out on a safe offer that would probably give you a comfortable life. Only you can decide whether you love or loathe risk.

**2) Which company will you be able to learn the most at?**
Though making a decision based on compensation package is good, I would also ask you to consider which role provides you the most opportunity to learn. Being employee 1,001 at a large company means your work won't have massive impact. You're mostly a cog in a large machine, and in marketing, that means pulling reports or trafficking campaigns. At a startup, being a marketing coordinator means you might pull reports and traffic campaigns, but you might have the option to run an entire campaign end-to-end. You might also have the chance to implement something end-to-end that has a huge impact on the companies key metrics. Simply put, the bigger the company, the less your contribution will matter.

**3) Is this company providing a compensation package that rewards the amount of risk your boyfriend is taking on?**
I'm not sure if your CPG offer includes restricted stock units (RSUs), but if so, then you need to determine whether the options at the startup mean more to you than the RSUs you will abandon. For example, assume you get 1,000 options at the startup, and the CPG company is offering you 100 RSUs. Let's say that CPG company is Procter & Gamble, and they're trading at $86 a share. Your RSU package is then worth $8,600 (assuming the market stays flat over the course of your time at P&G). You also know that the current value of your options are $1.00. So, right now, it's easy to see that P&G is giving you a better stock package, but what if the startup does well? As long as your options eventually reach a value equal or greater than $8.60 than the startup offer would have been better.

These is an over simplification of a very complicated concept, and it doesn't take into account things like tax, preferred shares, etc. But it's important to go through exercises like this so that you fully comprehend what you're gaining and giving up.

**4) Assuming the worst, if the startup goes under in a year, will this company provide enough experience so that you'll be able to get a better job than the one you gave up if the company fails?**
This goes back to the idea of which company can you learn the most from. Part of why you join a startup is to hyper accelerate your career growth. You want to join a startup where you'll work on different projects that make you more marketable when you have to move on (either because you chose to or because you had to). When I was at Bonobos and ComiXology, I was hired on to manage their email programs, but because they were startups, I also was able to eventually run their referral programs, loyalty programs, and digital acquisition programs. I doubt I would get that opportunity if I worked at a massive company where each person would be silo'd into their specific departments. Ultimately, this lead me to transition out of email marketing and become a marketing generalist, which is where I always wanted to be.

Sorry for the word dump, but I hope this helps you in making your decision. If you need anything else, feel free to reply back with any more questions or comments!