Being a Product Manager at an Established Company vs Startup

Being a Product Manager means that you are planning the strategies for the product that you’re responsible for. And such responsibility usually involves a group of people working under and alongside you in order to achieve your vision for the product. Whether you work at an established company vs a startup, the essence of product management remains the same. So what differences should you expect?

To begin with, the variety of skills present on your team will differ drastically between an established company vs startup company. Here’s a closer look:

Established Company

  • There are people working to take care of specific tasks so that you won’t have to. You will have a wide range of people with different talents and specialized fields. A number of people will help finish assigned tasks.
  • A lot of communication is required when deciding on changes to the product: having a larger team is as much a con in this sense as it is a pro. Multiple people will have ideas and suggestions. It will be extremely time-consuming due to having to compile results from a multitude of teams.
    • E.g. The Marketing team, the Legal team, and the UX team will all be disparate units.
  • Since most of your time will be spent in meetings and communicating either in person or through email, most of the actual work you do would be organizing the workload in a way that your team can work the most efficiently.

Startup Company

  • The number of people working with you on your product will be more limited. Most of the time, you will have to complete tasks that you have no prior experience with. Why? There is simply no one else available to do it. In a way, this is both a pro and a con: your job may be more challenging, but you are more likely to expand your skillset and develop.
  • Decisions can be made quickly at a startup since there will be fewer people that need to be consulted. Startups feature a flatter hierarchy so people can easily share their ideas and act accordingly upon them.
  • Although communications between the various departments and persons still need to be prioritized, you’ll be able to focus on work beyond just distributing the workload.

Established Company vs Startup

In the end, it’s not as simple as one option being better or worse than the other. Both established companies and startups have their pros and cons. They each offer different environments that will appeal to different people and have their own unique challenges that be off-putting to some but enticing to others. Ultimately, your decisions will be the deciding factor on how work goes for both working environments.

Whether you decide to work at an established company or a startup, it helps to have some support. Product Gym is a lifetime membership program for PMs, PM job hunters, and product people of all sorts. Getting people jobs in product management is our bread and butter: we can equip you with the knowledge and skills you need to kickstart your dream career in product management, at an established company or a startup.

If you want to learn more about the ins and outs of Product Manager skills and job search tactics, get in touch with us! We’re offering free career coaching sessions with our in-house team of PM Recruiter experts. We’d love to hear from you.

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