“Small is the new big” believes Seth Godin, and working in a small company should definitely be at least on your list of considered next steps after college. Many dismiss the opportunities of small and medium sized businesses in exchange for the lure of top market players and large brands. True, your chance of coming across a set-up entry-level graduate scheme ready to put you on the fast track to a management position may be slightly higher and easier to spot. Yet with a bit of searching, you will realise that plenty positions advertised by small companies may be suitable for your skill level.
- responsibility/involvement from day one – In a start-up or a small company, everyone’s time counts, so tasks cannot be diffused within a large and inefficient team. You will be given responsibility from your first day on the job. This is great news for recent graduates starting in a first job as your results won’t be judged based on how much time you’ve already spent with the company. Here’s your chance to really prove yourself straight out of college and build a strong brand, not hindered by a lack of formal previous experience or being the lowest one on the company ladder. There is no ladder.
- your actions really do make a difference – You will be handling business in no time and being a quarter or even a tenth of a team means not only that everyone is pulling their weight but also that your work really will make a tangible difference to the company’s bottom line. What better way to build a brand as someone who delivers results?
- direct exposure to all clients/customers - Working in a small team often results in everyone’s direct involvement with clients and customers, helping you to build relationships and interact with both small and large brands outside your company.
- direct exposure to company owner/CEO – Here is your chance to really build a relationship not only with your colleagues but also with the business founder and decision-makers. No need to go through several levels of management as you would in a big company.
- constant feedback and skills development – I’ve found this one to be especially useful as working in a small team allows me to get feedback when and where I need it, without the need to wait for formalized processes. Things simply get done, questions are quickly answered and this results in a rapid learning curve. Similarly, I’ve picked up several new skills while on the job already as everyone’s learning and cooperating on tasks.
These are some of the ways a small company environment may really help when building up your personal brand. The less formal structure and often close-knit company culture and atmosphere also makes a small-business job enticing and not to be missed.
So before you limit the scope of opportunities you are looking for, consider small businesses in or related to your desired industry. Talk to friends and relatives, proactively approach companies that seem interesting and enquire about possible opportunities. You never know where you could come across your ideal position.
Do you have any points to add? What tactics are you using to find opportunities with small businesses?
Anna is a Social Media Marketing Assistant at Pepsmedia, based in Cambridge, UK. Having graduated from the University of Cambridge in 2010 with a degree in Social and Political Sciences, she joined the small team straight out of university and is now helping businesses engage with customers online and build communities. She is passionate about the use of social media both in business and for individuals. To find out more, read her Life With Social Media blog, or connect with her on Twitter @annamanasova and LinkedIn.