Why working for a small business could be right for you (or not).

So for my first post on my new blog I thought I would write about my experices of working for a small business. I work for a little tech company in Manchester. The company is fairly new, about eight years old, and has around 25 employees. This piece will be on the pros and cons of working for a small business and why you might want to work in a place like this or decide it’s ultimately not for you.

You matter.

To use a worn out metaphor, a business is a machine, some of them are large and complicated and some smaller and more straight forward. In a small business, whatever part you play will be important to the running of that machine. While in a large business you may be able to fade into the background, in a smaller business your job will impact others around you and you will be able to see the results of your efforts. I happen to work in sales as part of a small team of five, and our weekly targets and achievements are displayed in front of everyone, we all work towards a monthly target together meaning each of our efforts matter on an indivdual level as well as part of the team.

Not only does your work matter in a small business but also your opinions. If you have an idea or a suggestion on something that might help you are much more likely to be heard when your CEO is someone you feel comfortable speaking to. Although at the moment I am not high up in the company, this does not mean my voicec is never heard and if this is important to you, you may want to consider working in this kind of environment.

There is however a flip side to this, if you have a bad day or week, it will matter. Everyone wants their hard work to be recognised, however they may feel differently when their flaws or failures are blatent to all their coworkers and there is no hiding behind anyone else in a small company, you own up to your mistakes and you must be willing to work to right them.

Your boss might be your friend

Now of course I can’t speak for everyone here but where I work my bosses are friendly. On my first day the CEO bought me a beer and I told him to fuck off. Separely of course, I would never tell anyone to fuck off for buying me beer but the point I’m making here is that there is a very relaxed atmosphere towards most things in my job. The structure where I work is that the CEO is ‘The Boss’ but I also have a manager who I answer to. There is basically no topic off limits between me and my manager, we discuss anything and everything. When my grandmother was first diagnosed with a serious illness she was one of the first people I went to and cried on.

The relationship between me and my manager works on mutual respect, she is there for me, not only as a manager but also as a friend. She trained me and taught me how to do my job and I still go to her for advice on certain prospects but she also made my transition into the office easier, I have a lot of respect for her as a person.

Where there may be difficulties though is that given the nature of our work relationship, the fact she is my friend can have implications in a professional sense. When certain problems arise you may not feel like going over your friend’s head to their boss. Or when they have to reprimand you or tell you that you’re doing something wrong, resentment may grow between you, stronger that it would if there wasn’t the friendship element there.

It’s a difficult line to tread and one I may not have fully worked out but be warned, if you end up working in this kind of environment, caring about your boss or coworkers as more than that can be really rewarding and amazing but it is not always a good thing.

There is opportunity

As I mentioned before, in a small business you matter and your voice can be heard. As well as this there may opportunity for growth in your career but also as a person. My role is primarily a sales role but this doesn’t mean I am chained to my responsibilities. There are other parts of the company I can have an input in, for example I just wrote my first blog post for the company website, I may post a link here once it’s put up. I also have opportunities to ask the developers anything I want to know to learn about the product we sell. I have opportunities to learn about all areas of the business and put what I learn into practice in my own role.

There are also opportunities to move across roles. Very few of the people working in my office have been in the same position for their entire time with the company, a smaller business may give you the chance to explore what you’re really good at within a business or what you may really enjoy.

Now I know there are many many more pros and cons of working for a small business but I will keep my first post of this blog relatively short for now. I may revisit this topic at a later date as predictably, I have many more thoughts on the matter.