In a small company, you learn about dreams, passion and doing all of things a once. In a big company, you learn about processing. You are part of a big machine. Before 30, it is not choosing a company or an industry. It is about choosing your boss. They can teach you. (Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba)
Have you every wondered about what its like to work in a small, growing company and a big, established one?
Some have views that you should aim for the big company, regardless. Due to its stature and for career advancement purposes on paper. Some seems to just want settle in a small company because of flexibility, lesser stress and comfort zone emphasis.
Well, below is the pros and cons for you to tinker about in a small company. Especially if you are a fresh graduate hunting for your first job. This might give you a general picture of things to come.
Note: This is only an opinion which may not reflect all growing companies. It is based on one’s personal experience.
Pros In a small company:
Bird’s eye view
You’ll be able to see the whole picture of how the organisation works. You, in general, will understand the seeds of how a business is run. You may need to do what is not listed in your job offer, way off your job scope. You will have a hand in finance, marketing and even logistics to some point which is not entirely a bad thing.
A stable structure is, most likely, yet to be established in a small company. It paves the way for you to be able to do things more freely. The company will face speed bumps from time to time, whether its internal or external. Hence, as the company grows and learns, you do too. You will be doing a lot of adapting and also gaining more experience.
You will also be presented with opportunities to be creative, speak up and make decisions. You have a say in a small company because it matters. In such a company, every ideas, opinions and arguments matter, unless your upper management fails to utilise it wisely. In any case, when issues arise, you will need to think fast and act fast. It will be beneficial to you personally and also to your career advancement.
In a small company, you will be able to communicate directly to your upper management and subordinates from different departments. It will be an open office. This will help in creating an understanding in terms of daily operational process, solving issues and moving forward as a team. The message directed from the director or the GM will be transferred more clearly to the executors. There will not be much filtering in terms of messages. However, it will depend on the direction of the company and important individual. Whether or not everyone is on the same page. Of course, office politics and egos are very much taken for granted.
Cons In a small company:
Small companies are always growing and there will be loopholes here and there. Structures will be weak, initially. Therefore, hell will break loose. SOPs implemented will not be fully exercised. Proper procedures between your suppliers, customer or employees will not be followed. Depending on how established a company you company is dealing with, the way you do things will be different, almost all the time. Its how to get things done yet accommodate one another’s requirements. It is not to say, the weak structure will be forever but it requires time for everyone in a small company to adapt. In saying so, that will also depend on how the upper management views things and carry the company.
It’s not my job to do this
There will come a time or more, that you will say “This is not my job to do so and so!” because it is not within your job scope. In a small company, you are generally expected to do more than what you are doing. I guess, it’s very much taken for granted. However, this also depends on what and how much tasks are thrown at you. More importantly, how will you be seen in the company for doing so and so, far from your job scope. The rationale and worthiness of doing so many things far from your forte will be questioned.
Lack of effectiveness and efficiency
With internal concerns such as a weak structure, the effectiveness and efficiency of getting things done will be affected badly. This spurts the growth of the company. Sometimes, you won’t know what to do and how to do. In a small company, every day, every problem is something new because it is still growing. Often times, you don’t have the resources or capacity to do so and so. For instance, you lack the historical data to prove your case and your internal system cannot accommodate to your needs to get what you want.
Mixed directions and bias
If there is no single direction agreed by the upper management, it will be difficult to move forward and grow. Especially when it is a family based business. With mixed opinions and directions from the people above, everyone below them will be confused. Sometimes, it will lead to one person having to listen to multiple individuals within the upper management. Also, if it is a family based business, biases will be obvious which will add fuel to office politics. Then again, this depends on how the upper management intends to deal with such matters. All in all, mixed directions and biases may hurt a small company deeper than a big company.