Discussion: Is a Running a Massive Project equivalent to Running a Company

tuwang profile image TuWang ・1 min read

As a software engineer, I have helped to manage the lifecycle of projects (i.e., design, implementation, testing and launch). I have also observed different roles (i.e., management, engineering, product) working on multiple projects. I realize that a project of organization-wide impact pushes all these project members to progress in their career (and some of them become org leaders)

I had a few related questions:

  • In an enterprise environment, is running a massive project equavalent to running a company?
  • How large should this project be to give an individual the amount of pressure and experience of running a company?
  • If you think "just quit your job and start a company", why do smart people still tend to stay at enterprise company?

I have started small business before, but it was never close to a startup. I want to know how people think of this topic, given our common experience of the past 10-20 years of tech industry growth.

Let me know your thoughts, and I'll draft my own thoughts in comment area too.

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tuwang profile



work is spaghetti and i am the meat ball


Editor guide

On a large project, its unlikely you have had to deal with:

  • Taxes
  • Finances (on a company wide scale, property, accounting, maintenance, infrastructure)
  • Insurance (Company liability, employee insurance etc)
  • HR (pensions, pay, legal issues)
  • Any advertising or PR that may be needed
  • Managing company relations
  • More im not thinking of

Nothing is too bad and there is loads of advice out there, but it's rarely as simple as just replicating what you do when working for someone else.


Insurance, HR, taxes and finance are definitely the empty areas that a software engineering role does not prepare people for. Thanks for the list!


No, the goals are completely different.

Managing a project, your goal is only that the project "is good" (however you measure that).

Starting a company, your goal is only that you earn money. A good project might help with that, but not a lot. We know of at least a few successfull companies that didn't really offer that much but somehow did get a lot of funding. Wework comes to mind. On the other hand, good products can either go nowhere, which would be hard to find an example of, or get stolen and exploited by someone else, like Edison and arguably Jobs.

I found this out the hard way when I quit my job to go start a startup. I suck at getting money.


Thanks for the insights. Getting money is the key difference, noted!


The main difference is when you work on enterprise project in big company you are paid for that. When you are startup, you have additional stress to provide stable cache flow. You must live in uncertainty some period of time, and it is not always an option, especially if you have family, credits etc... Beside that, from organization point, yes big project can be equivalent to running a company. A lot of people are involved, someone has to organize and synchronize things. Everyone has to find their role otherwise project will not succeed.


Super good point on cash flow! That’s something I would have never experience on a company project, since the visible cost to us is just software development cost(relatively fixed). Thanks for the insights.