RE: Corporate World vs. Small Company: Considerations?

Subject: RE: Corporate World vs. Small Company: Considerations?
From: "Nuckols, Kenneth M" <Kenneth -dot- Nuckols -at- mybrighthouse -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 21 Sep 2005 13:27:35 -0400

Brian Gordon said...
> I've worked for big companies (Nortel, Texas
> Instruments, IBM, Amex) and small ones (no point
> naming them!). I *much* prefer small, even with the
> lower paycheque that generally accompanies it. Some of
> my considerations:
> [snip]
> * Career path into management, if you want that
> [snip]
> + More flexible with working remotely and other
> creative solutions
> + Possibility to make big $ if you invest in the
> company and it booms.
> * Career path to anywhere if you want to branch out
> For me, the choice is small company. They are so much
> more human in scale and organization. Yes, I would
> like the extra 10-20K, but the trade-off is simply not
> worth it. Then again, I could be living in Phoenix
> making more money, paying less taxes, and living in a

A dissenting voice--there's one in every crowd, and this time it's me. I
have worked in my share of large companies and small ones, and while
Brian and practically everyone else has mentioned why they prefer small
companies to big, I just have to say I do not concur.

My experience with small companies (and I'm talking about some that are
family owned--35 - 50 employees total) is that there is NO flexibility
and NO mobility. To be in management you have to be a member of the
family, and if you're not adopted into or married into the family
there's never an opportunity for growth.

Someone else mentioned a variety of work. That is also laughably
erroneous in my experience. In a small company your task that you do is
a critical one and if you don't do it, it doesn't get done. You don't
have any opportunities to go do other types of work because you can't
take even a few hours away from what your primary job is to help out on
something different. In a large company there are generally many
different types of projects to be done, and the variety is a real plus.
Right now, I've got five major projects that are in various stages of
completion and are demanding various amounts of my effort:
-- a magazine article for a professional journal spotlighting some of
our solutions for specific customers a particular industry
-- an internal procedural documentation project for one of our newer
product offerings that coordinates various department responsibilities
during the life cycle of the sales / install / support process
-- a documentation suite for multiple departments on the sales,
installation, and support of another new product offering
-- an annual review and update of our disaster preparedness
documentation as the staff of our office prepares to move to a new
building in a few months
-- a project with our web development team to assist in creating and
documenting interactive online forms for customers of certain high-end
commercial service offerings

Another consideration that I do not think has been mentioned is the
ability of the company to deal with adverse economic impacts. Last year
I was working for a small company when the three hurricanes in six weeks
hit our part of Florida. Between the three storms I lost probably seven
days of work because the company was closed (no power) and they had no
provisions for paying their employees for those days. The only option
(if available and the employee chose) was to use vacation days. I
probably used two or three vacation days, but still lost nearly a week's
worth of pay. A large company with deep pockets would pay employees
during that down time--or, in the case of my current employer, the
entire building has a locomotive-sized diesel generator integrated into
the circuitry that automatically starts up if the power is out more than
five seconds.

Now don't get me wrong--I know a lot of large companies as well as many
small ones will be laying off masses of people in the wake of a disaster
the size of Hurricane Katrina--when an entire region of the country is
destroyed by natural disaster or some other misfortune, it's reasonable
to expect more dramatic consequences.

Oh yeah, and the pay is much superior to my previous job, and my commute
(5 miles with no major highways) is no longer than to my previous job,
just in a different compass direction. Other intangibles--I have a
quieter work environment, a better schedule, more vacation time, better
benefits, and more enthusiasm about getting up and going to work every
day than my previous job. I've generally found that in a big company I'm
more enthusiastic about my job because the company as a whole has a much
more diverse array of products and services. Keeping up with new
developments in the company I'm working for, as well as competing
companies in the industry is always interesting and stimulating, and
executives in our division encourage all employees to actively spend
part of their workday reviewing what's happening in our industry and
being aware of new technologies and products that may affect us, our
partners and competitors, and our customer base.

So I know I'm dissenting from the crowd, but for my mileage, I wouldn't
trade (presuming the same job title) working in a large company for
working in a small one if I had the choice. Of course, everyone's
personal experience and mileage will vary...

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