VOL. 130 | NO. 80 | Friday, April 24, 2015
ANGELA COPELAND | Special to The Daily News
For most of my career, I’ve worked for big businesses. In fact, some of the biggest. I was fortunate that my very first job was for auto giant General Motors, and along the way, I also spent time at FedEx and Westinghouse, to name a few.
There are many advantages to working for such large firms. You often receive a higher salary, and top-notch health care benefits. Your workplace comes with perks like an onsite gym, continuing education curriculum, and possibly even a free lunch.
But, as you can guess, that free lunch comes with a price. Sometimes that price is your personal identity, and professional growth.
In a big business, you often receive impressive exposure working on a world famous brand. Unfortunately, your role is much more specific. There’s an entire team of people to tackle a particular problem, and you find yourself working on one tiny piece of that problem.
In a small business, the big problem is your problem. You often strategize the issue from many angles. You may put in the legwork to fix the issue yourself. At times, this level of responsibility can be overwhelming. Rather than delegating every task to another department, you have to figure out the answer yourself. In the end though, this can be a big advantage. Employees from small businesses understand the entire business; not just their tiny slice. They get all the pieces of how the business works together, and are closer to the sales process. Their skills are broader in scope, and they’ve had a chance to learn about new and emerging technologies.
Another difference between working at a large corporation and a small firm is your ability to create a personal brand identity in your community. For example, when I invite someone to be a guest on my podcast from a small business, they’re often able to accept right away. They can speak fairly freely without much fear of negative consequences. Corporate employees typically must have this sort of request approved by multiple layers of management who review the interview questions in advance.
In the same way, it’s often easier for employees from smaller businesses to join nonprofit boards, speak publicly about their personal beliefs on important political issues, and even dress in their own style during business hours. Have you ever noticed an employee with a disclosure on their social media that reads, “The views expressed here are my own and don’t represent those of my company”? It’s typically a corporate employee who is fearful of the repercussions of actively participating in social media.
It’s clear that both large and small businesses have their pros and cons. But, if you’re working for a small firm when you’d rather be at a big one, take heart. You are learning more than you may realize. The broad problem solving skills you’re developing will help you both today, and in your future career. And, that big corporation you’ve been eyeing will be impressed by the depth of your expertise and experience.
Angela Copeland is CEO and founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com.