The Benefits of Working in Smaller Companies

Shortly after I moved FrogDog’s headquarters to Houston, I interviewed candidates for a marketing strategy role. I’m not sure where in the process a particular candidate came forward and I only vaguely remember our interview.

And I would have forgotten all about her by now if she hadn’t e-mailed the following day.

She thanked me for my time and asked me to remove her from consideration. She felt such a small company couldn’t provide job stability. Taking a position with us posed too much of a risk.

Her most recent past employer? Enron.

Hilarious.

Do employees de facto find less stability at smaller corporations? Absolutely not.

Look, working in large corporations has definite upsides—probably more than I realize, as I’ve always worked at smaller businesses. (My largest employer had a few hundred employees.) Even I feel envious twinges when I hear about months of vacation and princely medical packages.

Nevertheless, small companies have distinct benefits as well:

  • You’re not a number. In companies with a few hundred employees or fewer, everyone in the corporation knows you. You can talk to anyone.
  • You see your value. In a small ecosystem, you can directly see your efforts affect the company’s big-picture goals.
  • You wear many hats. In smaller companies, people have more than one role and rewards await the ones who take initiative. Learning opportunities abound.
  • People really care. Colleagues in small companies pay heed to your welfare and happiness. The top executives typically cater to your objectives as best they can. Successful small companies require strong teams.
  • You’re free of rigid hierarchies. Smaller companies don’t have strict rules that require a specific level of time in each role before you can move ahead. You can identify opportunities within the organization and ask permission to tackle them. You can build your own advancement plan. As long as you prove your mettle, you can make anything yours at small companies.
  • The top brass knows you. Likely, you work with the seniormost people in the company. They care about you, your success, and your happiness in their organizations. They’ll mentor you if asked. You can directly approach them for special opportunities.

I’m sure I left out a few, but this list makes up the biggies across many smaller organizations.

What other benefits do you see to working in smaller businesses?