I spent a long time agonizing about what I was going to write about this week. A topic just wasn’t forthcoming. Sometimes however, the answers are there but you can’t find them because you are trying too hard. Sometimes, you have to just let the universe happen. One of the things I liked least about Think & Grow Rich was Hill’s belief that there exists some “Infinite Intelligence” from which all creativity flows. I don’t quite buy that, but I agree with his sentiment that you have to open yourself up to the creative forces and let it happen instead of pushing.
That’s just what I did. I was laying on the sofa taking a minute to relax after my walk when my mind wandered to the #u30pro discussion this week on climbing the corporate ladder. I didn’t get that much out of it because I’m not into corporate life. If I do wind up at a large company; it will only be to gain the experience I need to get a job at a smaller company. That’s when the flash hit me. At Monday’s NoCoNet, a career counselor spoke about target lists, which I’ve written about before. One of the things you have to decide when creating your target is what size company who want to work for. My decision is small business, with options at larger companies kept open for their possibility of providing me with experience. But I knew my topic would be talking about this decision.
What I’m going to do is break down a list of pros and cons for working at a smaller company and a larger company. I’ll try to leave value judgement aside as much as possible. I’ve made my decision, but I realize it’s not the right decision for everyone.
Small Business (defined as <100 employees, sometimes <150. Definately <200)
- More than 99% of all companies in the US are small businesses; almost a quarter of these have employees, equaling approx. half of the private sector workforce
- 65% of all new jobs are created by small businesses
- They hire 43% of all high-tech employees
- They produce 13 times as many patents per employee than larger companies
- Smaller companies tend to have less formal atmospheres (I once worked at an insurance company where even the mail clerks had to wear a tie)
- Smaller companies have more flexibility
- The company as a whole can change direction faster
- It’s easier to network into a position
- It’s easier to take on new responsibility or projects while employed.
- Fewer employees means less people to have to get to know, suck up to, or suffer power-trips from
- Small companies tend to be more loyal to their employers
- Small business employees report higher levels of happiness
- Fewer employees means closer contact with the CEO and more recognition for your work
- Small companies have a larger failure rate (10% of all small businesses with employees fail per year, and only a quarter of all small firms make it to the 15 year mark)
- Pay and benefits are usually less at smaller companies
- More accountability for your actions – while your success is more visible, so is your failure
- More multi-tasking/doing unrelated & partially related tasks
- Usually have fewer resources
Large Business (defined as >500 employees)
- Tend to have better pay/benefits packages
- Tend to have more formal structures for raises & promotions
- More likely to have formal training and internship opportunities
- Usually have several offices, so may be able to transfer if you have to relocate
- Prestige – you’ll get more recognition when you say the name of the company you work for
- Able to be more anonymous if you desire
- Layoffs, downsizing. ‘Nuff said.
- There is more competition for your current job and for the promotions.
- Only 1% of all companies. There may be 30 small employers in your industry and geographic area and maybe 2 large ones
- Less ability to change and take advantage of new opportunities
- More rigid & formal
- More bureaucracy
- Harder to get into
- The more prestigous the company, the more stringent the qualifications they look for in an applicant
- Less opportunity to network into a position
There’s a gap in there, which is filled with a category called medium-sized business. It’s often lumped in with small business by companies that sell products to businesses, but, internal-structure-wise, it has more in common with larger companies. A medium sized business is more likely to only have one location, whereas most larger companies have expanded into branch offices in other parts of the country and/or world.