Corporate vs small business: which will work for me?
Is it better to work for a large or a small company? As with most things in life there is rarely a simple or straightforward answer to the above. Each option brings its own advantages and disadvantages; when making this decision it is important to weigh up the pros and cons and see what conclusion you arrive at.
Advantages of large companies
Perhaps the best advantage of working for a bigger company is job security. A large, established business is far less likely to dissolve and far more likely to offer better benefit packages. These employers also typically have clearer structures in place, with patterns of career advancement that are more certain. In addition, a larger employer often means more opportunity and exposure. This includes the ability to transfer to a different job within the organisation, or to draw from better resources. You may also have access to a larger network of clients and co-workers.
Disadvantages of large companies
Generally speaking, the bigger the business the harder it is for you to exert influence. An employee's role is a lot more fixed and, though not impossible, it is more of a challenge for you to assert your voice. Although there are benefits to having many co-workers, it also increases competition, and you'll be expected to truly excel in order to stand out.
Advantages of small companies
The more intimate setting of a smaller business offers many benefits: your successes are more apparent and therefore carry greater significance, and you are likely to have a closer relationship with upper management (which makes it easier to pitch your ideas). A smaller workforce means less competition and your responsibilities are likely to be more fluid than in a larger company – it's all hands on deck and there will be opportunities to try your hand at different things.
Disadvantages of small companies
The small structure of a company can have its downsides, however. While your successes are more visible, this also applies to your mistakes. You are more likely to work longer hours, with fewer benefits and less job security than you would receive in a larger company. There are also often no legal or HR departments in smaller businesses, which are useful in providing a bridge between employer and employee.
As you can see, there are clearly positives and negatives to both options. Whether you're more swayed by the security and structure of a large company or inspired by the opportunities and intimacy of a small company, it's important that you have a clear understanding of what's on offer and of the environment you feel works best for you.