Pros and Cons of Working for a Smaller Company
Have you ever wondered what it is like to work for a small business vs a large business? I definitely have. Or at least I did wonder that before coming to work with all the cool people at Lemonade Stand. Since I no longer have to wonder about it, I thought it would be nice to share some of the insights that I have now gained in case you are going through a similar decision-making process that I was about a year ago.
It’s a tough call to make!
I have been thinking a lot lately about the pros (toooooons of them) and the cons (I honestly couldn’t think of a very long list) of working for a smaller company, so I have compiled a list here, and I am going to dive a little deeper into each one of these. I hope to be as candid as humanly possible with this stuff, so that you really know what you’re getting yourself into.
I also do not, by any means, want to bash on larger companies nor on people who prefer to work for larger companies. They are wonderful for their own reasons and are perfectly valid places of employment. All small businesses hope to be a large business someday, right?
I do need to make one clarification though. Our company is a little bit different than your run-of-the-mill “start-up.” We are not backed by venture capitalists nor any other type of funding. We are a self-funded company, and this comes with its own little pros and cons as well. I only mention that so that you know that this list might not apply 100 percent to a fully venture-backed startup with a few hundred million dollars at its disposal.
Cons of Working for a Smaller Company
I am starting with the cons. I think that these are incredibly important items to consider; however, I could only think of two cons, and I spent a lot of time trying to think of cons, ok? This isn’t some ploy to trick you into working for small companies by saying how few cons there are. This is a genuine list of all of the pros and cons that I could come up with.
The two cons on my list are compensation and benefits. I said that this would be a candid look into the world of small businesses, so I’m an open book on this.
Small businesses do not have the same resources that mega corporations do to provide insane benefits or to pay you incredible amounts of money. It’s just the cold, hard truth.
This can be a really tough pill to swallow, and it definitely makes the decision difficult when you’re looking to move to a smaller company; however, personally, I think that the list of pros that I have built out far outweigh the small limitations that something like compensation and benefits might create.
I will also say that, slightly lower compensation and benefits package do not mean that the company or its leaders do not care about you and do not want you to succeed. It’s quite the opposite in fact. This can turn into a pro in most cases. If you are one of the few people who stick through the rougher times with a smaller company, you will most certainly be rewarded in the long run, and you will probably end up being more rewarded (and with frequency) than if you had decided to stay with a larger corporation anyway.
Is it a con? Absolutely. Can it make your life more challenging? Maybe a little bit.. But who doesn’t love a bit of a challenge? You will be way more driven to help your company to grow and succeed, because with the growth of the company comes your own growth as well. It’s a very cool thing to be a part of!
Now, like I said, those were the only cons that I could think of. I think that’s pretty cool. That also means that there are a whole lot of pros that I’m about to share, and you’re going to want to read through some of these. I promise.
Pros of Working for a Smaller Company
Let’s go on to the good stuff! Why would you want to work for a smaller company versus a larger one? My list is long. I absolutely love working for a smaller company with a smaller team. It’s not the life for everyone (see above list of cons), but if this list of pros fills you with an inexplicable energy or makes you realize that you might be missing out on some crazy cool features of working with a smaller company, then I suggest that you either check out our company website for open jobs or look for one similar and at least get talking to someone. There are tons of companies looking for good people right now, and you may just find the best group of people working for the best company that you didn’t even know existed. That’s how it was for me!
Ok, so why do I love working for a smaller company so much?
First and biggest thing for me is a program called Build Then Bless. If you’ve yet to hear about this amazing program, check out the article I wrote about what it is and why we do it here. Now, not every small company has a program like Build Then Bless (not yet at least – more to come on that soon). This is a completely original idea that I have only ever seen at Lemonade Stand; however, the point that I am trying to make here is that small companies are extremely customizable and flexible with trying things out and implementing those things for their employees. Build Then Bless was just a cool idea, but it was brought to life by our team and has become the backbone for everything else that we do. This is amazing! It could take years to bring up an idea like this to top management of a large company and even more years to actually get it implemented and fully operational. Looking around at other small companies, I have heard of tons of different programs/benefits that are offered that would never be offered at a larger company. This is so cool to me! I love it!!
The next pro on my list ties directly in with this, but it’s the efficiency and effectiveness of policy change or idea implementation. This doesn’t always just mean cool programs or benefits, but this can apply to almost every situation where you want to see change happen. We are constantly evaluating and reevaluating the way that our processes work to ensure that we are getting our work done in the best way possible. That means that we change a lot. That means that our people bring up ideas of their own creation, and we are able to implement them almost instantaneously if they are something that we all agree should be done. This is unheard of in a large company! You might have the greatest idea on the planet that could completely change the way business is done at your company for the better, but that idea might never see the light of day. It’s an unfortunate reality of working at a large company. These companies have their reasons for the way that they do things. Sometimes it just has to be that way, and I won’t argue with that, but I will say that it is really, really nice to be able to see your ideas impact the way your entire company works.
Another great aspect is that you can truly know and love all of the people at your company. I hear all the time “I love my job because the people at my company are so cool!” That’s great! However, if you work somewhere like Walmart, you cannot possibly say something like that and actually mean that you would never leave your company because the 2.2 million people that Walmart employees are just all amazing and you love them all so much. It’s impossible to know them all! It is, of course, possible to have found an incredible team at a large company, but you will never work with everyone at the company. So who cares? Well, what I’m getting at is this. If you hear someone say they love working at Walmart because of the people, it is impossible for you to use that as a valid reason for which you would then also want to work for Walmart unless you would be working on the exact same team as that person. On the flip side, if you hear someone at a small company say that they love all of the people they get to work with, generally they’ll be talking about the entire company, and that’s a pretty cool statement to be able to make! I know every single person at our company, and they are all amazing and incredible people. I know them individually, and they know me too! When I say that I work with the coolest people on the planet, I’m talking about our entire company and anyone and everyone who you would be working with if you joined our team. How cool is that??
Let’s keep it going!
The approachability of “upper management” is unmatched at a small company. Any day that I want to, I can go and have a chat with our CEO or any other executive of our company. That’s incredible! Our executive team is still very involved in the daily aspects and operations of our company, and, man that is cool! Each and every day that I go to work I am encouraged, thanked, or recognized in some way by at least one (usually more) member of our executive team. That certainly doesn’t happen at a large company. These people care about all of us as individual human beings. It’s absolutely incredible!
This also ties into that last point, but the employee/team member recognition that comes from a small company is just amazing. Now, we do get a little help from one of the coolest companies I know of called Motivosity, but we are all able to recognize and thank each other for the work that we do to help each other along. This can even include something like “Hey, Greg! Thanks for running payroll this week and making sure we all get paychecks. Sure appreciate that!” When is the last time that a payroll person was thanked by someone in IT at a Fortune 500 company? It just doesn’t happen as often as it could or as often as it should.. But it definitely happens around here! We love our team!!
One of my favorite aspects of a small company is that most of us get to wear a lot of different hats! Example A. I am our accountant. My “role” is to ensure that our accounting is accurate and help provide financial statement analysis, forecasts, make sure that our clients are billed properly etc.
As you see here, I am also writing our company blog. Why, you ask? Because I was willing to do it and wanted to help out!
I could not have done this at a large company. It would not have fit my job description. At Lemonade Stand? You bet your bottom dollar we are all doing things that aren’t in our “job description.” What an opportunity though! I love this part of a smaller company!!
Two final notes, and I will stop my long list of pros.
If you work for a small company, you have the satisfaction of knowing that your efforts always count. If you were to leave, your absence would be noted, and the entire company would miss you and wouldn’t know what to do without you, because you are so important to the way things are done. In most cases, you leave a large company, and the next person is already filling your role before you’re even out the door. It can feel like your efforts are never noticed or that you aren’t appreciated for what you do for the company. This can be really frustrating! Most likely, this wouldn’t happen at a small company. You become an integral part of a small team that is just out making things happen. You always count!
Ok. I left this one as the final pro, because it is one of my absolute favorites. This will not apply to all companies of our size, but it does for us, and it is a very powerful reason to love having a job here.
Our company is still owned by our founder. It hasn’t been sold off to raise money or to get investor buy in. Why is this important? Because it means that we can take the company any direction that we want to. We are not dictated by anyone else just because they provided the funding for our company. It is ours. This means that I can go chat with our founder, and we could make whatever changes we saw as necessary without needing to get approval from a higher power. This is crazy!! I saved it for last because I didn’t want it to get overlooked. This is one of the absolute best reasons to work for a smaller company (of course, you’d need to have complete faith in the person who does own the company still).
I might be a little bit biased, but I love working for a smaller company, and I hope that this has helped you see why! If you are still making the decision on what type of company you’d like to work for, please reach out to us. We are more than happy to talk with you!
If you are currently working for a small business (or own one yourself), and you want that business to keep growing, reach out to our team here to see if we can offer you any help on your journey