Why I love working with small business and you should too

Written by Paul on April 21st, 2008

Over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a wide variety of businesses ranging from the Fortune 500 all the way “down” to small bootstrapped businesses (including my own).

I’ve noticed an inverse relationship between the size of the company and the “interesting-ness” of it’s employees. Simply put: I’ve met the most interesting people at the smallest companies.

“But Paul,” you might say, “everyone is interesting in their own way – what do you really mean?” Often, the only difference between an interesting person and one who does not consider himself interesting is a matter of confidence – and a willingness to share their stories.

Small businesses are a unique place where employees have no choice but to be innovative and highly creative. When you tie those together with confidence and great communication skills, you tend to get the type of people that actively seek out (and share) new experiences – that makes them such interesting people.

When I was working with a large Fortune 500 company last year, the most interesting person I worked with was a horse breeder. Here at PBwiki, a much smaller company by comparison, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a helicopter pilot, influential bloggers, hot sauce aficionados, “hippies” (am I going to get in trouble for saying that?) and ex-librarians – a much wider range of people that all share the common traits above.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, especially those of you working in the “corporate” world. Let me know.

Image Credit: Wili

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3 Responses to “Why I love working with small business and you should too”

  • mike

    Wait, am I the hippie?

    — 04/21/08 at 5:34 pm

  • emily

    Don’t be silly, it’s me! ;)

    — 04/22/08 at 6:52 am

  • Samir

    I figured I would give some insight on this topic since it is something that I personally have had a controversy with when I was about to graduate undergrad and was looking for a full time job. I currently am working at a Fortune 500 company. Overall I have enjoyed my time with the company. Being in the tech industry one thing I have realized about large companies is usually money for projects is not a problem. The funding is readily available and if you can support your idea on why to go forth with the project, you usually get the funding needed (this just seems to be easier at larger companies). For example, the company I am currently working for purchases $35,000+ servers and other equipment as if they cost a dollar. The company has invested heavily with other new technologies as well and mind you the company is not an exclusive IT organization. Another benefit is that the company has strong ties with other large tech companies. For example, companies whose software or hardware we purchase and use are readily willing to assist us with any problems we may have no matter what time of day it may be. I guess some consider this to be a type of priority support. Such partners will at times even use us to beta test some of their equipment or software in our test environment, in exchange we receive a certain discount. Another factor that I have come across is that usually larger companies tend to have the funding to aid one in developing their skills and to enhance themselves. I have been able to learn about so many different types of technologies since the company uses a large variety of technologies. I got to admit though, that most of my exposure has been available mainly through personal networking with coworkers who are willing to share what they do and even take the time to enhance my skills.

    On the flip side I have worked and interned at smaller companies. Such companies give more of a personal experience. You are not an employee identified just by your employee number, but rather there is a personal relationship with your coworkers rather than just with coworkers who are on your team. I guess with small organizations you don’t really have to spend as much time trying to network yourselves with coworkers as you would at a larger company since there are not as many employees to deal with. With some of my past positions at smaller companies I was able to be the “jack of all trades” when it came to IT. With larger companies, more functions tend to be very departmentalized or there is more red tape when trying to get something done (although if you are good at networking with the right people you usually avoid such issues at a large company). Another thing I realized with smaller companies is sometimes they tend not to have the latest and greatest IT products. Although this can be a good thing too, as it makes one try to work with what they got rather than buying something new which may cost more. Usually smaller companies tend to have less political drama as well. Overall there is more of a personal relationship between you and the company when being at a smaller company.

    Honestly my main reason for working where I work is because I like what I am doing, the company has a good name in the corporate world, and I have had great opportunities with moving around in the company. My main reason for working with the organization I work for was mostly to gain exposure to different areas of technology and of course to have the company’s name on my resume. The fact that the company has treated me well is surely a reason why I have not left the company yet. Keep in mind though I always keep my options open and I think many people should do the same, especially if their wish to build upon their on skills.

    Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to shed some light on this topic.

    — 04/23/08 at 8:28 pm

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