This article is a journey. A journey through some famous quotes of famous movies, a journey which I hope will make you see smaller companies in a new, better light. Because this is what journeys do: transform.
This article is also a story. A story of 42 reasons why working in a young company is a challenge and an advantage, a story which I hope will make you want to join a smaller company. Because this is what stories do: change the world.
The reason why I used movie lines is to highlight the things you win when joining a new small-scale enterprise, the best thing you will get: the stories! There are so many fun events, so many moments and lessons learned and lived in a young company, you would need a week of evening hang-outs to story them all, and, more importantly, there will be stories to be told for the rest of your life journey.
Being small is always an advantage, a statement that I have tried to turn into an axiom for me. From a professional point of view, I have always been the advocate of smaller companies, of those in which you are a name, not a figure. Although I admit, I have always looked with admiration at friends who work in multinational companies or corporations. Maybe it’s just because of the discussions which seemed full of importance due to the difficult terminologies.
So, joining a small-sized company came as a common-sense decision. Some of my grey-haired acquaintances told me after a certain age they felt comfortable in a routine, without fear of capping and asked me why I took this challenge. “Elementary, my dear Watson”: to make a change and create a bigger impact on my life, to have more ownership, to have the unique experience of helping to build something, and be part of the company’s growth from the very beginning. Don’t get me wrong: I had no idea what it will be like, but I knew it will be an adventure. So, “the game is afoot!”
So why join a company which is at the beginning of its journey?
The Force is strong here!
In a small business environment, you are not only part of a team, you a part of a family. All colleagues are passionate people working every day with positive energy, showing excitement and optimism; at the end of the day, you wonder where the time flew and look forward to starting a new day together with these people. It’s not science-fiction: it’s actually caring about results, even if it’s a service or a simple message. Even with the pandemic restrictions and with the work-from-home setup, the working atmosphere is awesome: the online wine night and the smiles you see in the daily syncs, the brainstorming for new ideas, the jokes and the friendly chit-chat; even if you are not in the same office, somehow you feel closer to each colleague. I’ll tell you something: this “new business” spirit is contagious and incredibly strong. “May the Force be with you!”
How you doin'?
Speaking of family, remember the Friends TV show? Well, this is pretty much the spirit in a smaller-shape company: teamwork, friends, having fun in a creative environment, quality time, shaping a company and building relationships. “Could you be wishing anything else?!”
My mama always said, ‘Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.'
One of the most challenging parts is the fact that you have a lot of responsibilities in all areas. And this applies to everyone: from top management to juniors. Even if it might seem difficult, all these responsibilities are actually chances to learn something new, they are opportunities to improve or to change something and even to have ownership. Challenges and opportunities constantly change, so you need to continuously adapt and develop your skills. Routine is not a word in the glossary of a new company. Each new responsibility will lead to professional and personal growth, by learning new skills in a variety of areas and gain experience.
The chocolates in the box are the responsibilities, all kinds of flavors, but no matter which one you have, it will have an impact on the business; and since you do not know what you’re gonna get it’s up to you to transform it into an opportunity. As the company grows, opportunities for professional evolution will also grow exponentially. So, eat your chocolates, take a deep breath and “Run, Forrest! Run!”
Are you talking to me?
I remember the time when I was looking for a job to gain some experience. But guess what, you need the experience to get experience. In a new company, your enthusiasm and motivation might prove more valuable than the experience, so when you have the chance, take that entry-level job and start proving your real competences. And, you might have good chances of getting promoted.
I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse.
A small business environment, especially a new one, is the perfect place to make your voice heard. The management line is totally different than the one in a corporate environment. What I like most about working here is the fact that I can be truly open and speak freely about my opinions, I can pitch ideas and help in the decision process in different ways. Your opinion matters.
If you are interested in ownership, this is the perfect place. What gives employees a sense of ownership? The fact that everyone is included in the setup of the company’s goals, the fact that all employees have autonomy. Consider this: smaller the team, the bigger the ownership of your deliveries. “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future”.
This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship
As in life, not everything is suitable for everyone. If you are looking for a dream job, a “must” is to find something that suits you; and I’m not talking only about skills and competences, but mostly about the company culture: to have the same goals, to share your beliefs. In a smaller-shape business, for sure, working together with your colleagues will shape the company culture. You will have a direct impact on the working environment, you will be able to say, at one point: “This was set up by our team”. And, you will do this by having fun. So, “Round up the usual suspects” and create a journey you won’t forget.
Freethinkers at seventeen!
This quote from the movie Dead Poets Society is illustrating exactly why a new smaller-shape enterprise is the best choice if you are looking for innovation in day-to-day activities. “We must constantly look at things in a different way.”, and this is exactly what you do in such a company. Each experience is a unique one. Besides this, in a new company you might have a lot of influence, you have a lot of freedom in your decision, in your tasks, and you are encouraged to have an input in organizing the business processes. You will learn a lot on the job, making hands-on experience, you will become familiar with various aspects of a business, you will be entitled to try (and fail sometimes). And with new responsibilities come also a lot of learning opportunities; and since you are in a new company, you will learn from true innovators, because people (managers) who dare to start a new business are creative and innovating people, the best people to learn from. Whatsoever, you will deal with various aspects of the business so, plenty of opportunities to gain more competences. “So, Carpe Diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.”
You're not gonna need a bigger boat.
I’ve always had the impression that working in a corporate environment is like swimming with sharks. Not because people are more aggressive, but because the management chain is longer than in a smaller company, therefore there are bigger fish that you have to snare. People are more skeptical, the environment is less transparent, and in general, more restrictive and more closed. In a new young business, it's like jumping from the pool into the ocean. You have much more flexibility and, the most important thing is getting the work done rather than when and how much time you put into it. So put on the life vest and “Just keep swimming”
This is Sparta!
Let’s talk about Job Performance – your first day at work in a corporate environment: coffee, coffee, and some small talk. Your first week in a corporate – still doing almost nothing. Your first month: still not pressure, maybe you wrote some emails. Now, in a new small company, you might be finding yourself thrown directly in a client sales meeting. The smaller the workforce, the greater the mission, right? Because in a young company, especially in a new one, everyone’s performance is important, every single person matters. Yes, there is some pressure here but the reward totally worth it. And this is another important aspect of a smaller-shape enterprise: you are seen, your results are noticed (so do failures). In such a company, for sure your success will be instantly recognized, and this will bring passion into the game; since failure will be easy to notice as well, you will become more focused, more determined to deliver good quality. So, “Spartans! Prepare for glory!”
Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore
COVID-19 pandemic situation: The pandemic came with new challenges for everyone, professional and personal, but one thing that makes the difference in the small-shape enterprise is the concept Lead with Empathy (in a smaller company, the management considers the employee needs, seeks for advice and support from the trusted team and communicate changes with efficiency and transparency). Add a flexible work schedule and you might say, like Dorothy, “There’s no place like home”…office.
Yes, things move a lot faster in a new company. From recruitment to finance, from sales to projects and clients. So, take the Hitchhiker's Guide, pick up the pace, and enjoy the ride! And remember, “the Answer to the Great Question... Of Life, the Universe and Everything... Is... Forty-two!”