Small Company vs. Big Company: What’s the Difference?

All businesses aren’t created equal. What may be normal for a small company could be strange for a large one. But when deciding where to work, those distinctions matter.

“There are a number of differences,” says Kathleen Downs, a recruiting manager at Robert Half International. “I wouldn’t say one is better than the other, but they are certainly different.”

From culture to job function, here’s a look at ten differences between working for a small firm and its larger brethren.

Surprisingly, there is no official definition of “large” or “small” business. The federal government looks at a company’s average annual receipts or the average number of employees. The general cutoff for “large business” is having at least $7 million in annual revenue and 500 employees.

Working at a Big Company Vs Small Company | Told by a Fortune 500 Data Analyst

Pros of working for a small company vs. a big company

Working for a smaller company or organization can provide these benefits:

Working for big companies or organizations can offer the following benefits:

What’s the difference between small and big companies?

Companies of all sizes look for hardworking, innovative and skilled candidates to fill open positions. Your own preferences and career goals play a role in determining whether you want to work for a large corporation or a small business with fewer than 300 employees. When looking for a job, its helpful to know how companies differ in terms of the work environment, salary, positions, opportunities for advancement, benefits and culture.

Below are some characteristics of small and large companies that may help you evaluate which is the better fit for you.

1. Company structure

The structure of small businesses can vary because of employee and administrator turnover, goals are revised and the company adapts to changing market conditions. This means your workload may also change regularly and you may need to continually evaluate your own role and your work-life balance. This can work in your favor in some circumstances because a smaller company may be better able to adapt to employees needs.

In a larger company, the roles, division of labor and measures of success are likely to be more structured and consistent. Unless you are promoted or otherwise reassigned, your work schedule and duties may remain the same for years, with little flexibility. If you prefer a long-term, predictable career trajectory, a large company may be a better choice.

In a small company, every employee has a role to play in helping it grow and succeed. A company many rely on your skills and experience for more than one type of work within the company, which means a more varied workday and more opportunities to develop your skills. As you gain experience, your role within the company may become more advanced and more vital to its operations.

In a large company, you will be one among many working in a department or on a team. There will likely be other employees doing the same job as you are, and there may be a clear boundary and little flexibility between the tasks you are responsible for and those belonging to others, even within the same department. Having others that share your type of work means more opportunities to learn from one another and sharpen your skills.

3. Your opportunities for the future

Small companies may offer fewer advancement opportunities simply because there are fewer employees overall. However, the role you do take within the company is more likely to be recognized and directly connected to the companys success. By actively helping a small business grow, you may be able to earn more advanced roles for yourself where they did not previously exist.

Large companies typically have established systems for employees to progress from entry-level toward various tiers of management. When you are hired, you can count on this type of progression as long as you develop your skills and work hard. The larger the company, the more training and mentorship programs will be available to guide you along an established career path. Larger companies also have more name recognition, which is helpful if you should choose to apply for a position elsewhere.

Cons of working for small vs. big companies

Here are some potential downsides of working for small companies:

Conversely, here are a few potential downsides of working for a large company:

Tips for choosing between small vs. big companies

Consider this information when choosing between small vs. big companies:

Research the resources and benefits available within the company

Although larger companies tend to have more resources for training employees as well as a more extensive benefits package, this is not always the case. Smaller companies are discovering that in order to compete for the best employees, they must offer the same attractive perks as the big ones. Take time to research all of the resources available, as well as current or past employees opinions about working for the company.

Evaluate the companys agility in adapting to changes

Working for a company with the ability to respond to changing market conditions is essential. When you have a deep understanding of the industry in which you work, you can evaluate the companys willingness to change methods, missions and even company structure as needed in order to stay competitive.

Make sure you will have job security

People with long-term personal goals such as owning a home, caring for a family and planning for retirement can benefit from a high degree of job security. Its important to know that your paychecks will always arrive on schedule and that you wont suddenly need to find a new job. Well-established firms are adept at managing budgets, assets and expenses so they can maintain a steady number of employees, even during tough times.

FAQ

Is it better to work for a small company or large company?

When size matters. The number of employees is an obvious indicator of a business’s size, but it also says a lot about the work environment. Larger corporations with thousands of employees tend to be more structured and team-driven, while smaller businesses can be more intimate and personable.

What are the differences between a big company and a small company?

Larger businesses tend to have a more rigid hierarchy and a bureaucratic structure because they have more employees. In this hierarchy, the board of directors and the CEO have the most control in the chain of command. In contrast, many smaller companies only have a small group of people or a single person in charge.

Why do you want to work for a small company instead of a big company?

You’ll Develop a Wider Range of Skills

In a smaller company, you’ll also get new opportunities for professional development. For example, you will get business experience in areas like sales, and you will get more opportunities to work on soft skills like presentation skills or customer service.

Why small businesses are better than big ones?

Small businesses promote healthier communities.

According to a national study, communities with greater numbers of thriving, locally-owned small business have healthier populations — with lower rates of mortality, obesity, and diabetes — than those with concentrations of large companies.

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