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Advantages of a small firm?

Discussion in 'Careers and Professional Development' started by Telecaster, Apr 6, 2019.

  1. Telecaster

    Mobster

    Joined: Jun 17, 2012

    Posts: 4,869

    What should be some perks or advantages of working for a small company? Currently, compared to working for a larger company doing exactly the same role I'm sacrificing salary, holidays, free time, pension etc. and not by a small amount.

    I see it said often that people prefer working for a smaller company and I'd like to ask why?

    I'm just wondering how long I give it- the boss has been good to me and gave me an opportunity to build up my skills, he's a family friend and I'm grateful, but I'm not young enough to just stay with him for the foreseeable based on loyalty alone. I'm 40 this year and don't own a home or have any worthwhile pension or much else to talk about, my job is 50% physical so there is no way I can bank on doing this right up to what is likely to be 70 by the time I retire, so I've got to get my arse in gear.

    I had in mind maybe giving him another couple of years, the problem is he only seems to employee either personal friends or family of friends etc and he's ran out of options. The last guy that left was never replaced and the other two of us have had to pick up the work load, I don't want to drop him in it because I think if I left he'd be right in the ****, not because I'm indispensable but because there'd just be too much work for them to do until he managed to find a replacement willing to work under the same circumstances, if he found anyone at all.
     
  2. dowie

    Caporegime

    Joined: Jan 29, 2008

    Posts: 39,092

    Depends on the firm to some extent but surely if you're already working at a small firm you're already aware of the benefits/drawbacks of your position?

    I mean people could give answers like you can get involved in more areas etc.. rather than being siloed, you can perhaps have responsibility for things that would require a lot more experience/seniority in a larger firm. But you already know whether or not these things apply to your situation.
     
  3. kindai

    Soldato

    Joined: Aug 9, 2013

    Posts: 6,301

    Location: Bromsgrove

    Sounds like you need an honest sit down with him and outline everything youve said in your post. He might be a family friend but as they say, there are no friends in business.

    If theres just the two of you, I assume you might have a good idea of the money the company is bringing in, if so, do you think youre being fairly paid? If the money just isnt there, then im afraid its time to move on.
     
  4. Telecaster

    Mobster

    Joined: Jun 17, 2012

    Posts: 4,869

    Sorry wasn't very clear, I meant what benefits should I be seeing by working at a small firm as whatever they generally seem to be when other people mention them, I'm not sure I see any.
     
  5. Russinating

    Capodecina

    Joined: Dec 27, 2005

    Posts: 15,122

    Location: Bristol

    I run a small business (7 people) and have a few friends in similar sized companies etc. The benefits will vary but I'd like to think we're pretty good. Really you should be expecting:

    - Ability to perform tasks and duties outside of your job description, expanding your skill/knowledge base
    - Greater flexibility with time off, holidays, etc, particularly last minute requests
    - More exposure to the business as a whole, be that transparent financials or just general day-to-day operation
    - Good social atmosphere from working in a smaller team
    - More flexibility with requesting training and learning
    - Ability to request changes and have more of an impact on the whole business

    I'm not sure why your boss only employees friends and family members, I can't think of anything worse.
     
  6. Telecaster

    Mobster

    Joined: Jun 17, 2012

    Posts: 4,869

    Hard to gauge the money coming in because I don't really know what he charges, he keeps lots to himself and TBH us other two know very little. If I base it on his lifestyle I'd say they do pretty well, his Mrs packed in her managerial job to stay at home do some accounts and kids stuff, both kids go to public school with decent fees, nice house, nice car, expensive holidays, owns a horse for one of the kids, just bought the other kid a car etc...

    I earn a decent amount less than the going rate for my job, just from looking around at vacancies it seems to average 5-7k P/A less. I'm massively out of pocket with holidays as I just get the statutory minimum whilst other firms are offering considerably more, whilst I also work considerably more hours as most other firms pay door-to-door where as I get deducted the first and last hour of travelling, so for my 8 hours I do 10 etc.

    He's an ok guy but he's not very good at talking about employment issues and takes things to heart and too personally all too easily.

    Basically he started out on his own and managed everything himself and was ok with that, I think over the years since he's taken on more work and had to employ a few people he's not as well cut out for that as just organising himself, there is a fair amount of winging it goes on.

    The only plus side I can see is that I'm fairly self sufficient and almost my own boss, we don't have a depot or office and I am based from home and mostly work alone which suits me perfectly, I talk to him over the phone most days and see him on occasion but apart from that I organise my self.
     
  7. Telecaster

    Mobster

    Joined: Jun 17, 2012

    Posts: 4,869

    I put it down to him thinking friends are more likely to put up with less than ideal working conditions, the few times he has employed someone out of this circle has been a disaster for him.
     
  8. kindai

    Soldato

    Joined: Aug 9, 2013

    Posts: 6,301

    Location: Bromsgrove

    Yea, time to tell him to stump up more or move on.
     
  9. Telecaster

    Mobster

    Joined: Jun 17, 2012

    Posts: 4,869

    I've not long since had a pay rise so I'm pretty sure it will be a case of moving on.
     
  10. kindai

    Soldato

    Joined: Aug 9, 2013

    Posts: 6,301

    Location: Bromsgrove

    If the pay rise is still that much below market rate then he knows hes on a good thing, will likely try and say anything to keep you there. Dont get guilted into staying if he cant match market rates.
     
  11. Telecaster

    Mobster

    Joined: Jun 17, 2012

    Posts: 4,869

    I'm at least going to wait until this Brexit farce is over, or at least we know for sure what is happening. I had two more years in mind as I'd like a bit more experience before moving on as his overall view on training is "just get on with it and figure it out" rather than actual manufacturer run courses.

    He certainly plays on people being generous with how accommodating they are RE: working practices, in the 5 years I've worked for him I've never once used up my full 20 day holiday allocation because it's never convenient, plus I've not had more than a week off in one go for the same reasons. It would be nice to have a fortnights holiday without feeling guilty after the 3rd day, I've even cut holidays short for him when he's texted me if I can come in.
     
  12. Flaevius

    Gangster

    Joined: Oct 17, 2017

    Posts: 319

    I work within a company of 12 direct staff.

    Advantages:
    • Diversity of tasks. Involvement in more than you would be at a larger organisation, with more input. That gives a lot of potential reference points too re: CV, interviews.
    • Flexibility over holidays - easier to book time off.
    • More valuable - to the employer.
    • No oversight/line management.
    • Atmosphere - dependant on your colleagues of course, but should theoretically be a closer-knit team.
    However, in my current experience, the disadvantages outweigh that:
    • For the amount I am involved in, I am paid proportionally less than I would be with similar responsibility (at a higher grade) at a direct, larger competitor.
    • Flexibility over holidays counteracted by less ability to have my role covered when I am off - bare minimum coverage.
    • Less holiday allowance than the competitor (albeit still 25+B/Hs, so not poor).
    • No progression - all other roles bar one are either not applicable to me or would be a sideways step. One applicable role only, and it's not one I would want.
    • No training - an embarrassment compared to the competitor, really.
    • Company very stuck in its ways and subject to the whims of the CEO, too involved.
    • No HR at all, 'make it up as you go' approach.
    • Covering other roles when staff leave.
    • Having to use old tech because the investment is proportionally less and things move slower.
    The 'more valuable to your employer' cuts both ways too. In my own experience, that leads to a lot of complacency with the employer feeling they can put upon staff in ways that would not be tolerated at a larger firm, or expect more of staff because - you know - 'we are a small team that pulls together' (pulling together = being shafted usually). In your case @Telecaster, I am not seeing many benefits for you.
     
  13. chroniclard

    Capodecina

    Joined: Apr 23, 2014

    Posts: 11,905

    Location: Hertfordshire

    I have only worked for small places and to be honest other than a fairly close knit banter group I'm not sure there are many benefits. Suits me though.
     
  14. harry5522

    Soldato

    Joined: Jan 27, 2012

    Posts: 6,554

    Location: The king of the north!

    I have a few comments on this, i have put them in your OP in bold :) - for reference at my place there are 4 shop floor workers, 3 engineers and 3 office staff. (plastics factory)

     
  15. Jonnybmac

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Dec 17, 2009

    Posts: 1,653

    Location: Brotton

    I took a move to a small firm from a large on the basis there would be more opportunities and the like to gain more experience and become a jack of all trades. What i did find was everything was a bit of a mess and resources stretched thin especially when it came to holidays. Even being an iso 9001 company they didn't really have the experience or resources to manage the requirements and being small i found it was more a case of more people fighting for the same position and most being there longer deserve a promotion into a higher role so generally a case of stagnateand get in line.

    I've now moved back to a large company and the benefits and opportunities far outweigh that of a smaller. Granted some have drawbacks but to become a larger company you've generally already jumped through the requirements a snall company struggles with.

    Both have pros and cons but id take a larger company any day.
     
  16. Telecaster

    Mobster

    Joined: Jun 17, 2012

    Posts: 4,869

    Thanks for the interesting replies, considering these are all probably vastly different fields I see lots of points that echo my own experience, especially regarding holidays and training etc.

    There is no promotion available in my role as there is nowhere upwards to go (that would be the same regardless of a small or large firm) so that aspect of things doesn't bother me at all, all I will gain is more knowledge and potentially training which one would hope would command a higher salary.

    I'm fairly confident I will have to jump ship at some point, it's just plucking up the courage to do it.
     
  17. D.P.

    Caporegime

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

    Posts: 29,966

    The 2 main advantages would be if you work for a start-up you hopefully have a load of stock options and if you help make the conpsbc succeed you will get rich. Secondly, you will learn a lot about different aspects of the business for when you want to start your own company.


    Otherwise you mostly have a load of negatives. You might have some additional flexibility in terms of working hours and vacation, but you will likely work longer and have less vacation. More over holidays have s big impact on small companies do you might find you are more restricted and the company enforces when and how long you can go on vacation.a holiday Rita is normal.

    There is less opertunities to get extra training because they can't afford the time or expense.
     
  18. Lopéz

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Oct 17, 2002

    Posts: 26,952

    Location: Leicestershire

    For me, this is how I'm finding a small (20 employees) business

    + Office environment
    + Fast pace, especially with decisions. Things are suggested and implemented rapidly and change is easy
    + Work life balance
    + Genuine team spirit
    + Training budget available and my boss is happy to invest in me
    + Good performance rewarded fairly quickly
    + No mountains of red tape
    + Almost no politics

    - Financial security of the company. Heavy reliance on key clients
    - Nowhere to hide if you are an underperformer or if you drop the ball
    - Lack of processes and procedures is hard to get used to after corporate life but it can be refreshing
    - Not much more than that.

    The corporate place I left was big, slow and old fashioned. This place is small, fast and modern. Never been happier in my job.
     
  19. HangTime

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Oct 25, 2002

    Posts: 27,481

    Location: Hampshire

    Benefits as I see them:
    -Potential for rapid progression / having suitable roles created for you
    -Possibility of stock options etc
    -Probably less bureaucracy and greater agility
    -Opportunities to learn new things because delineation of roles is typically less pronounced / fewer people covering other tasks
    -More cohesive team (or rather, more likely to operate as a single team rather than a collection of silos)

    Larger companies carry alternate benefits, so if you aren't getting many of the above it could be time to jack it in.

    The thing other people have mentioned that surprises me the most is flexibility of time off. In my experience it's much easier to get time off in a bigger organisation because there are (proportionally) fewer key-man dependencies.