First Paycheck: Corporate vs. Startup

By June 28, 2013

I’m worth more!

My two first weeks at a role in a Fortune 500 company yielded a paycheck with an unexpected amount.  In absolute terms, the sum of money was decent – enough to pay my student loans, rent and even a little discretionary splurging on the side. Yet for some reason I felt shortchanged as I counted the hours I actually worked: there was no way to increase my earnings.  Additionally, looking at all the taxes, insurance and social security deductions, I believed my value was much more than what I received.

Fast-forward to when I left Corporate America to start pursuing my own business ideas.  The effort I put forth was mentally, physically and emotionally more intense and time-consuming than any corporate role I’ve been in.  Toiling and laboring through uncertainty, and I wasn’t even making a penny.

One day though, when the first trickle of money came in (and trickle is a generous word), I can’t describe the delirious elation I felt! Interestingly enough, if I did calculate my hourly rate in an entrepreneurial venture – I’d be breaking labor laws in every country around the world! And tax deductions, which irked me when I got a corporate paycheck, didn’t even enter the outskirts of my thoughts.

All I could think of was how to celebrate the fact that someone finally believed my company’s vision. This irony is an #entrepreneurfail.

Why the difference in reaction?

The feeling of satisfaction when you get validation for something that is yours alone is unparalleled.  Entrepreneurs have an innate need to create, and when there is a sign that the road less taken may be the right one, it means so much more than just a salary.

How did you feel when you got that first paying customer or client?  Let us know in the comments below.

(Our forthcoming book of comics illustrates the humorous differences between corporate and startup roles.  Sign up on to be notified when it launches.)


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