Many people believe that to make a career you have to join a big multinational company and slowly climb the ladder position by position. Start as a trainee and become an analyst, then a specialist, senior specialist, team leader and on it goes until one day in your fifties you may (or may not) finally call yourself a C-something. If you believe in this way, joining a small company may seem to be a temporary solution at best; and a life failure if you like being dramatic.
We don’t share this view. We believe that small companies have a lot to offer. Let us give you our five tongue in cheek (or maybe not so much tongue in cheek) reasons why.
In a small company you quickly become part of the team. And by saying so we don’t mean that you have to get to work, because there is never enough people. What we actually have in mind is the fact that if the team consists of, let’s say, 7 people there is no chance to stand in the corner and mutter some “hi” at the beginning and the end of the day. Small companies offer this unique vibe of friendly relationships.
What it means in practice? Don’t feel like going out for lunch? Your colleagues will probably ask you if you want them to bring you something. Having a hard time with the project recently and wanting to let off some steam? You don’t have to worry that the manager will hear and scold you. In fact, you have a good chance they will join you (if only for a brief moment). And then all the team can brainstorm for a moment to help you find a solution or at least hear your pain.
In this environment you are not a number in the CEO’s table of revenue and costs; you are a person. And as a person you have every right for your ups and downs, likes and dislikes.
Having said that, it is clear that there is plenty of room for - let’s say - “special needs”. Your biggest dream in life is spending half a year in some warm country and working remotely? Well, that sounds interesting; let’s talk details. If some of the employees have little kids, maybe it’s a good idea to offer them a childcare refund, because that is what they need. You may think that it’s only the way to make you invest more of your time into work, but we assure you it’s not the case.
Good employers should support work life balance. We think that small companies treat this issue more seriously. First of all, small company cannot afford to have people burn out, because there are not many replacements. But let’s face it, that was just a very corporate mumbo jumbo we are so willing to avoid. We understand that burnout is a very important issue. And since we are all “friends” we just try to take good care of each other. So, if you are tired with your current responsibilities there is no need for you to start sending out resumes. You can always come and talk to the CEO. Maybe we can figure something out.
Do you remember the kitchen in the big company? There is usually a coffee machine (of course, there is), tea, coffee, water, sometimes they also have fresh fruit. Those basics should fit most people. If you want something extra, you can buy it and keep it in your locker. This is how workplace works, yeah? Well, not necessarily. With small team you can keep the shopping list open for everyone. You like herbal tea, we can see no reason why we shouldn’t get you some. We are open to any cravings that are within reason. In a small company you can always (try to) negotiate the kind of desk you have, the kind of computer and software you use, the chair that will be the most comfortable for you and of course the tea, coffee or juice you like.
Those are little things that make you come to the office more eagerly, but this strategy stretches beyond this. There are many small companies that introduce the candidate to the team before hiring. This is to make sure the fit is right. After all, if we make our best to create the friendly atmosphere we don’t want to hire a person that will not get the vibe.
It was already mentioned that the team will not let anyone be a wallflower for too long. At first it means that you quickly gain hands-on experience with the project. But how is it related to your growth? It’s not the complex issue at all. Everyone has their likes and dislikes. But even when the team is small, there are certain things that have to be done. In this way people have to go out from their comfort zones and learn new necessary skills. It’s impossible to stick with your niche and not be involved in anything else.
In big companies the chain of command is very clear. You report to your manager and that’s it. Skip-level management is rather frowned upon, not to mention when it happens the other way round. Such behaviour could get you in serious trouble. Also, if you are in technical team it’s hardly likely that you’ll ever get to see the client. That is entirely not the case in small companies. It’s very likely that some day you’ll have to represent the company outside. Whether it’s going to be a meeting with a client or a speech at the local meetup depends on the current needs. Of course, we are not going to violently push you out to the public, but if you don’t object we are willing to give you this opportunity.
Finally. How should your manager know what you are comfortable with? We have already mentioned that in a small company the employee is treated like a person and not a record in a database. At 98elements we keep regular one-on-ones with our team. This way everyone has their time to share ideas, concerns and whatever else is on their minds. This helps us recognize strengths and weaknesses of our team and help them grow. After all, when they grow we do.
We understand that even when your current workplace is great, sometimes you may just feel the urge for a change. Are there any benefits in having a “no-name” small company in your resume? It’s obvious that big, well-known companies instantly catch the eye of a recruiter. So is working in a small company creating a blank space in your CV?
Not necessarily. All members of the team joined the company with some background. They have their own network of colleagues. So if the atmosphere is right (and it most certainly should be) there is a good chance that your resume won’t even land on the desk of the recruiter, but it’s going to be passed directly to the decisive person. After all, networking is the best way of looking for a job, isn’t it?
Also, it may happen that if you play things right and give your boss a heads up that you want to leave sometime soon. They can help and contact you with their network. After all, in small companies people come first, so if you think it’s time to leave there is no point in making it hard.
We hope that if you are considering changing a job in the near future we have given you some reasons to consider companies other than the golden GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple). Small companies are great places to work, grow and make friends. We know very well that work is not home and colleagues are not family, but we truly hope that creating good atmosphere in the office is a huge part of every company’s success and small companies simply do it better.