The perception that successful people work for big corporations is wide spread. I started working about one year ago, for a very small company, in the North East of England. Not a good start, some said. I begged to differ. I think taking the job with a small business, in a small office, in the lost North East of England has been the best decision for my professional life. I’m not saying that working for corporations is a wrong decision. Sure, the money is good and you have those ‘team building’ events, with free travel, food and accommodation. In the end, it all comes to what your goals are and what your personality is.
So here’s what I learned from working for a small consultancy company:
√ When you have limited resources, you need to improvise, be creative and find suitable solutions. This makes you think critically, learn and evolve a lot in a small time frame. In the past 11 months I’ve learned to work with and sort more software programmes that I learned in three years at University.
√ In small companies, everyone does everything. This is how I learnt to write a marketing plan, to write a business plan, to write a digital marketing strategy, to deal with suppliers, to sort logistics, to sell services and products, to write a business proposal, to deal with international clients, to communicate effectively with clients who live on different continents and much much more. And all this in 11 months. My boss trusts me to train his business partners, to discuss what the company can offer, to represent the company at events.
√ The amount of knowledge that you have access to is incredible when the CEO of the company works two meters away from you. My boss has 30 years of work experience. He has started as an intern and has climbed the ladder up to managing a very big healthcare company. And he is in the office with me every day. He takes me to meet clients, he lets me listen in to his sales calls and he answers every silly question that I have. I’m not isolated in a cubicle and he is not too busy to dedicate some time to help with my personal development. And this is because he doesn’t have too many employees. I have access to a walking “business library” every day!
√ ‘Your career should be a marathon, not a sprint’ – this has been the most important lesson that my manager taught me. I want to keep running and get to the destination on time. I don’t want to get to the finish line too early. To me, this translates into learning as much as I can, every day, asking questions and taking the time to get through every phase of my working life. I’m not bothered about money. I have more that I need at this moment in my life. Now is the time to learn and to invest time in my personal development. Which working for a small company allowed me.
√ Work never stops, so it is important that you like what you do and the people who you work with. On my first day, back when I was a scared intern, my boss made me coffee. And told me that I need to take it slow and to take the time to learn everything about the company. This was the only way I was going to be successful at what I do. The important thing here is that he made me feel valuable. With a cup of coffee and assuring me that he isn’t going to throw me in the fish tank without knowing how to swim, he showed me that he cared about me enjoying working with him. He earned my respect. And work never stopped. I don’t mind answering the phone or emails after 5PM because I know I’m appreciated for this. I love what I do and I feel comfortable in my work environment.
Working in a small company might not be for everyone. But it was the best for me. I got more than I was expecting. And, maybe the most important thing that I’ve learned is that my opinion matters and you’re never too small or too junior to be valued by the company you work for.