Start Small: Why Small Companies Make Great First Jobs

by / ⠀Career Advice / May 11, 2014

small business

Big companies dominate our lives. We use our iPhone to search Google, log on to Facebook to interact with our friends, and shop on Amazon. It can be hard to remember that smaller companies even exist, particularly when it’s time to look for a job.

Many job seekers look to the big companies first, thinking they offer the best platform to launch a successful career. Working for a big company may be right for you if the environment and professional development offered suit your needs. However, if you have doubts about any of those aspects of life at a big corporation, it’s worth looking into joining a smaller company.

Here are four reasons why working for a smaller company can be better:

1. You won’t be another cog in the machine.

Employees at big corporations are often hired to be a cog in the machine and fulfill a specific duty. These tasks can get repetitive and dull very quickly. You typically don’t have the freedom to experiment and expand your skills.

With a smaller company, you have a greater chance to explore. You can learn about many different aspects of operating a business and gain more experience quickly, which makes it easier to shift your career focus if you find something that interests you more than your current job.

2. You will be noticed.

When your job operates in one tiny corner of a large corporation, you can easily be forgotten. Not only can this be demoralizing, but it can also hurt your potential for career advancement.

At a smaller company, you’re a more significant part of the operation. You need to be effective in several areas and are more likely to be noticed for your accomplishments and dedication.

3. Your work will matter.

If you’re one of several analysts at a large corporation, there are dozens or even hundreds of employees doing your exact job. Your presence on any given day is not vital to the company’s success.

At a smaller company, your daily work matters, and your actions directly affect the bottom line.

4. You will have access to management.

Your first job is a learning experience. Your colleagues and bosses have information and strategies to share. At large corporations, opportunities to talk to higher-ups can be few and far between. The focus is on your current tasks, rather than on potential future growth.

Smaller firms will have CEOs who regularly interact with all levels of the staff and make themselves available. This is a huge opportunity for you to learn from others with more knowledge and experience.

Finding that Job

Unfortunately, it can take a bit more effort to find a small company that fits your qualifications and interests. These probably aren’t the companies your friends are applying to. They don’t have big bucks to throw at recruiters, and they won’t be spending money to distribute hundreds of flyers and squishy balls around campus.

Here are some tips for finding the perfect small company:

  • Search “best places to work” lists on Forbes, Crain’s New York Business, and niche publications for your industry.
  • Search Glassdoor for companies that are hiring based on the job title and location you want.
  • Check out your local Chamber of Commerce business directory for small businesses in your area.

Small companies offer many benefits that their larger counterparts cannot. While large companies may dominate the landscape, smaller companies work to recognize your strengths. You potentially have more opportunities for professional growth and a much closer relationship with your peers and superiors. Don’t be just another cog. Explore your potential in a small business environment. 

Stirling Cox is the managing director of AlphaSights USA, a company that connects today’s business leaders with the insight and expertise they need to prosper. The company assists a global client base, including private equity firms, asset managers, strategy consultancies, and corporate executives, in making more informed decisions. 

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About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.

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