Small businesses may lack the name recognition that larger companies enjoy—like Berkshire Hathaway, for example. But with small business comes big opportunity, especially if you’re starting your career. Small businesses are able to provide different opportunities that larger corporations simply cannot supply, especially for recent graduates.
Jump right in
Small businesses usually need your services immediately. Your training is doing the job, and that’s OKAY. While large companies have the luxury of systemic training sessions, smaller businesses often times opt for a controlled version of “trial and error”. Now, while this may cause a few more bumps along the road, it also allows new, entry-level employees the ability to infuse their job with fresh and innovative ideas AND can help them learn quickly. Plus, employees will still have to learn additional ways to do their job even after the systemic training, whereas the “trial and error” method does this all in one fell swoop.
I can use my own experience as an example. In my “I’m about to graduate” job search, my choices were Transformation Marketing, or a large, 100+ employee company. My job descriptions for each were the exact same, but the larger company required a year and a half to two years of customer service before I could do what my job description (and degree) said I could do. On the other hand, I started using my skills within my first day at Transformation Marketing. The early years of your career are for learning, adapting and harnessing your craft. For me, this means that opting to work at a smaller company put me two years ahead of where I would be if I had chosen the larger company.
You never know where your career will take you
If you’re a recent graduate, you’re probably 21 to 23 years old. If you retire at 65, this gives you roughly 40 years of work. Think about how much has changed in your life so far—now you have double that time.
Small businesses require employees to wear many hats. The company’s needs and smaller structure cause daily tasks to vary. One day you’re the sales representative, the next you’re a social media coordinator, and sometimes you’re customer service. Every employee at a small business eventually becomes a Swiss-army-knife of an employee and develops a variety of translatable skills. Even better, adaptability and flexibility are highly valued in today’s workforce.
As you innovate, so does the company. Small businesses must constantly adapt to find and grow niche markets. A successful small business might not look the same in 10 years, whether that be its size or mission, but you get the opportunity to grow with the company as well.
Employees at small businesses often have to be a jack of many trades, instead of specializing in just one area. You never know where this life will take you. Not only does being a “multi-sport athlete” type of employee help you develop a variety of skills, but it gives you the ability to thrive in a fast-paced, constantly changing world.
Direct mentorship from the top
Successful small businesses are usually started by successful CEOs with visionary mindsets. Employees hardly ever see these individuals at large businesses and corporations, but it’s almost a daily occurrence at small businesses. They are in constant contact with employees and often join you on projects. This direct communication and collaboration with experts will help you learn about the industry and how to be successful in it.
Your impact is easily noticeable and rewarded
It’s easy to feel like you’re not contributing to society in your career’s infancy. Small businesses need your work as you’re often your own department. Your work will be showcased on every project and you will be able to see your impact on a daily basis.
Small businesses force you to develop a strong work ethic
Since teams are so small, you MUST do your part. If you drag, the team drags. This might give you a sense of anxiety, but it will set your standard for the rest of your career. That being said, every good employer knows it’s your first job and missteps are bound to happen along the way. They will help you grow and learn from your mistakes.
But it’s not for everyone
Small businesses require a specific mindset. Employees must be okay and even optimistic when it comes to adapting. They focus less on the job description and more on the current task and what will contribute to the company’s success. If you fit this go-with-the-flow attitude, a small business might be the right fit for you.