Six Reasons to Work in a Small Company

In this presidential election year, there is enormous focus on adding jobs to the economy. Many of those jobs come via new businesses – start up companies. Pretty much all of these start up companies are small. If we are successful in providing the environment in which these new businesses thrive, then you may very well have an opportunity to work in a small company – but should you?

Here are six reasons you might want to work in a small company.

Casual work environment.

In larger companies, HR has usually decided on a dress code to which all employees must adhere. Dress tends to be more casual – even ranging to shorts, t-shirts and sandals in smaller companies. There is more stress on work done and ability than looking the part. There is often less of a company reputation at stake too.

Cooler perks.

Small companies can offer up some unusual work perks.  One of my sons worked for a company with about 30 employees.  They worked in an old warehouse building and the employer provided free beer onsite (courtesy of one of the clients), a pool table to use on breaks and a TV room for discussions.

Growth with the company.

It’s called “Getting in on the ground floor”. If you start with a company and stick with it, helping it grow, you have a better shot at landing an executive level position as the company grows.

I started at a mid-sized company and grew with it as it became a large company. The people who started when the company was small (about 10 years before I came) were 20 steps ahead of the rest of us in landing the director, vice president and higher positions.

More recognition.

Because there are far fewer employees, pretty much everything you do (or don’t do!) is recognized by someone. You probably have more opportunity to work directly with the founder and CEO than you would at a larger company.

Marissa Mayer (now CEO of Yahoo) started at Google when it was a baby and worked directly with the founders. She grew with that company.

More opportunity to develop multiple skills.

To survive in a small company, you have to be ready to do what is needed, even if that isn’t your particular specialty. If a new employee needs training, you get to do it – even if you suck at teaching. If hardware breaks but you are a software guy, guess what? You get to fix it anyway.

One of my son’s is a senior software engineer at a 7 person company that does middle ware for websites that want to offer personalized products. He is on call for anything and everything related to the computers, servers and software.

Less time spent jumping through the hoops.

In a large company, you will be following written policies and procedures on pretty much every type of work activity, from interviewing a potential new hire to talking to the clients. You are expected to know the policies and to follow them. If you don’t you are subject to termination and/or personal lawsuits.

In some large companies, computer security policies dictate that you don’t go outside the company network (i.e. to the internet) without express permission. In order to get that permission (and get the computer restrictions lifted that keep you from getting to the web), you have to weave your way through multiple levels of management and present a case as to why you need that access to do your job.

Of course, working at a large company has benefits as well – paid training, business travel, possibly better benefits, ability to really specialize in what you do and etc.

Which is better for you in the long run? I guess that depends. Some small businesses are less stable than their big brothers. Some people are more comfortable in an environment with more structure. But, if you can sign on to a company in it’s start up phase and help it grow, there can be significant benefits – especially if the company offers stock ownership and really takes off!

Do you prefer working in a small company?