Working For The Small Guys

I left my last job recently , by some rankings the 23rd largest company in the world, for a much smaller company. The general consensus from those who I talked to was that it would be good experience to have a change of pace, and many recommended a shift to a a smaller company.

With that said, I think I’ve settled in enough to pick out what I see as the advantages of working for a small company. Luckily for me, it appears that those I confided in gave me some good advice. So here we go. About four months in I’m going to give you what I see as the three best things that I’ve found working at a smaller company.

Clear Goals

Working for a smaller company, especially one the runs lean, means that the company needs to use resources as efficiently as possible.  This is evident in the fact that everyone knows what the goals of the company currently are. Instead of being lost in the back of the office doing menial work without visibility into how you are helping the company, it’s clear what problems the business is facing and how specific pieces of work fit in to accomplish the larger

In addition, clearly outlining the goals and objectives helps to build the feeling that teams are actually working together. In my experience, large companies have many objectives and everyone has a different idea on how to solve them. This isn’t a bad thing. What is a bad thing is that in pursuing these many ideas on how to solve some overarching problem, different teams in some instances actively work against one another’s interests to solve the same problem. All this with the hope that their solution is the one that gets noticed and creates a successful career.

The Chance to Get Your Hands Dirty

The lack of bureaucracy. I love it. Instead of having to fight through multiple approval processes and layers of pointless requests to get access to data/tools, you get the ability to solve problems however you would like (and pay for the consequences).

What types of problems? Well, real problems. Instead of trying to solve the problem of moving data from one place from another, or making a banner on a homepage appear differently, you are doing things that can have direct impact. Like what? In my teams case it’s creating customer segmentation strategies, or delivering insights on data that never before has been seen.

The best part? Instead of performance being judged on how quickly a problem is solved with a pre-defined approach, it is judged on the results. Instead of the mantra “How fast did you deliver to specifications”, the mantra is “How much value did you deliver“.

Lots of Opportunity to Push the Envelope

Looking at the points above, this is fairly obvious. New ideas are easier to implement in smaller organizations. Instead of having to fight with layers of process, you are up against reality. What do I mean by that? I mean that instead of fighting people over nothing, you are fighting the limits of technology, hardware, and business processes.

The only limit is your own lack of knowledge and passion.