Entrepreneurship is often depicted, accurately, as a difficult task. Sometimes it is Sisyphus pushing a boulder up a mountainside, or maybe it is holding off a giant wave coming to shore, or even yet is can be depicted as a sole soul trying to herd consumers over to a new, unknown, untested option. Since it is usually accompanied by innovation, either by introducing a known product to a new region or sector, or by introducing a totally new product, entrepreneurship is directly connected to a sense of risk, the unknown, and the very real possibility for failure under some non-ideal circumstances of working longer hours for less than one’s corporate counterparts. All of this is accurate, but still many choose to follow the path of the entrepreneur in order to build something themselves and be their own bosses.
On the corporate end of the spectrum, stability and predictability seem to rule public knowledge on the matter. Somebody who wants a secure job that has a structured way of “moving up the corporate ladder” should go work in the corporate, office-oriented world. The world of financial analysts, investment bankers, insurance salespeople, and more of the typical office jobs come to mind. Since a person in these companies is not backing themselves and is also backed by the clout, power, and finances of a major corporation, they’re oftentimes seen as safer jobs to take that also offer plenty of chance for success for the right person. Success in the corporate world — being one of many Vice Presidents of a firm, or being a major consultant, or a partner — is seen as easier than success in the entrepreneurial realm.
This thought is likely misguided, though.
Though it is less-common for a major corporation to completely close its doors (but not unheard of, see: 2007 financial crisis, the airline industry, the Dot Com Bubble), what isn’t unusual within these companies is for an employee to sit in the same role for many years (if said employee can avoid a corporate downsizing). With plenty of other competitors for more prestigious positions, staying as an Assistant to the Assistant to the Assistant to the Assistant Vice Analyst isn’t uncommon and, in fact, is the most-statistically-likely outcome to entering a large organization like a major corporation. Even (especially?) at prestigious corporations, like those of Wall Street, most entry-level positions at the company are full of Ivy League graduates, all vying to climb the corporate ladder and make six figures by the time they turn thirty. Combine these situations with inter-office politics, usually multiplied in power over those of a smaller environment, climbing the ladder becomes much more like running on a gerbil wheel, even for the ambitious, driven, Ivy League graduate. Climbing the corporate ladder is one of the hardest things somebody can do, especially if coming from outside the corporation.
In the end, an ability to navigate inter-office politics and appease superiors goes further than an intrepreneurial drive to innovate within the firm. The intrepreneur goes further, rises higher, and gains more recognition at a startup. The young person who is trying to decide between a career in the startup world, even if they are not planning on launching their own independent projects, and the corporate world should seriously consider the upward mobility within a startup. Even if the startup fails, the skills gained and put to use within that world carry over well to other startups, especially should the intrapreneur decide to become the entrepreneur and start themselves up.