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József Dániel Farkas

fellow of Bridge Budapest, Be-novative, Budapest

From Corporate to Startup – Big Team vs. Small Team

I would not say that I have made such a great career at multinational companies so far; during my university studies, however, I worked for more than six months at a large company which is active in the whole of Europe. This was here in Hungary, and also more than six months at a global company, but that was abroad.

I think it’s needless to say that both of them were quite different from working at a startup. I would rely on my own experience and would also not claim to cover all aspects comparing the work in a big team and a small team.

Big team vs. Small team

One can of course establish meaningful relationships and friendships at large companies and in big teams as well, but my experience so far has shown that, no matter how much you try to avoid it, all you will get from most of your colleagues is the American sort of communication going like „How is it going? Fine, thanks!”. You may also get into the strange situation of not knowing if your colleague is married or not or if he/she has children or not, despite your working together in the same department for years.

You, of course, do not need to be hail-fellowly to everybody, but since all of us know our lives are mainly about our work, it is important that the team we work in is also partly our friends, meaning that we have people to work with during our work whom we can honestly cooperate with without any strings attached. I think that one is much more happy to work in such an environment, not mentioning the fact that a more flexible corporate culture can offer room for forms of collaboration that give positive feelings to those participating in it. This means that it is not a question of courage for me to speak at meetings if I have a good idea. My initiatives are given space and they ask my opinion no matter what my position in the company is, etc. I think that people are much more happy to do this in an environment where they can feel that they do not work with colleagues but rather with friends at a common goal.

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At present, we are 23 at Be-novative and we have a much more familiar and friendly atmosphere than at a large company. Also, what I like much more here is that a less professional behaviour is much more accepted. This is a team of young people, one can tell jokes, there is a casual atmosphere, you do not need to worry about being honest if you have a constructive attitude and you do not need to rethink all your actions five times, for instance, whether or not you may contact the manager with any questions and if so then how should you do it and what process you should follow. One should sort of forget all such bureaucracy and hierarchy of multinational corporations but some minimal structure, for efficient operations and transparency, is needed; for instance: whom to involve into the review of the results of a given task, to ensure that not everyone follows his/her own path only.

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Company parties and teambuilding sessions are also spent in a much more friendly and familiar atmosphere, as everybody knows the others thanks to the small company size and the flexible culture, and we can improve each other not only professionally but personally as well, even beyond our work. This is, amongst others, the reason why a startup seems to be a much more attractive workplace than a classic big company.

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