Author: Deepali Kulkarni
July 31, 2019
I recently made the decision to switch from big 4 with about 200,000 employees in 40 countries to a small company called Echelon Solutions group with about 200 employees. Often employees seeking employment tend to ignore smaller employers and focus their efforts on larger firms, due to brand recognition, colleague’s recommendation, perception of stability or sometimes even due to right timing.
I was following on the same path, but then there was a small voice at the back of my mind asking me, “Why am I repeating the same thing when I could learn and diversify more in another environment?” I was worried about being stuck in the same rut, in a new company. Adding to that were concerns about travel opportunities, remuneration and other perks that I took for granted in my old company.
I soon found out how unfounded my concerns were. Smaller companies tend to have plans that are progressive enough that they are able to succeed regardless of how the economy is doing. They tend to be nimble and excel at finding their niche. Also, small firms usually don’t have the large overhead burdened as the big companies with fancy addresses and designer lobbies. In my experience, smaller companies do not really have bench time which means you are moving from one project to next gig. What I did not know was that it was not just moving from project to project but most of the projects are also short term. I had worked with most of my clients for multiple years. Now was my time to jump in and get exposed to shorter projects, where you are expected to wear multiple hats.
A major hurdle while moving to a smaller company might be that Human Resources aren’t really looking for people with your profile. There seems to be an assumption that a smaller company might not be able to meet expectations, match salary, and other incentives as well as allow you to grow as employee. HR departments also is looking for candidate which fit in their notion of ‘ideal candidate’.
I had to change multiple parties preconceived notions about the direction my career was heading towards. Job titles haven’t held a lot of appeal for me, although small companies can give you a big title, but the job responsibility may not be so clearly defined. You may not have a huge team to support you, so you have to learn to be really good with reaching out to your colleagues for help. You should also be able to do your own research, be flexible and work independently.
From my short time at Echelon, here are some takeaways that I would categorize as distinct advantages of working in a smaller company.
1. 360-degree view of the world. You get a chance to see pre-sales process for the firm to post go live support negotiations.
2. Total transparency which allows you to grow more. In large companies everyone has a part to play, and that means you will only be involved in your portion of work.
3. You get a chance to set up an internal process- may it be for Sales, Delivery or Accounting.
4. More visibility- it’s a smaller environment so hard work is noticed more promptly.
5. Increased flexibility. Smaller companies know everyone they work with and has faith which allows more flexible work culture.
6. Get chances to work with CIO, CEO and higher ups- everyone teaches us a new aspect and higher ups give you a different perspective to run projects or companies.
7. Chance to bring in change since even a small change will have a big impact. Change in small firms can be brought about in any aspect even in departments where you have no accountability.
1. You have to come in with a lot of industry knowledge and experience under your belt, because there is no safety net.
2. A smaller company may not enjoy the same buffer that allows bigger companies to float through bleak periods, which is calculated risk one had to undertake.
3. Smaller companies do not offer as many perks as bigger companies tend to do in terms of insurance, paid leave, corporate credit card, travel insurance etc
4. You can’t really clock in and out. One has to be a leader and take initiative.
Everyone talks about changing the world but in my case, it was time to change myself and my situation. I had to broaden my universe and look for a real change rather than perception of a change. After 4 months of experience with Echelon, I think my risk paid off. Right job and right company was always out there, It just took me a while to find it.