Firstly, if you haven't read our previous blog post about working for a big technical firm (is it a yay or nay?) give that a read, as this is a follow-up post highlighting the pros and cons of working in the opposite - small/medium-sized enterprises.
Working for a technical SME can be an incredibly exciting and rewarding experience. These companies are often at the forefront of innovation, making for a unique and challenging work environment, often fulfilling for employees.
Following our previous pros and cons round-up, we've given you the same for SMEs, so you can weigh up both and help steer you in the right direction (thank us later).
- Flexibility and agility: SMEs are often nimbler and more adaptable than larger companies, which means they can respond quickly to changing market conditions and opportunities. This can create a more dynamic work environment that allows for greater autonomy and creativity.
- A greater sense of ownership and responsibility for one's work, as there may be fewer layers of management and employees may have a greater say in decision-making.
- Close-knit team: SMEs tend to have smaller/concentrated teams, which can foster a sense of camaraderie and collaboration. Employees may have the opportunity to work closely with colleagues from different departments, which can lead to greater cross-functional knowledge and skills.
- Exposure to a wider range of tasks and responsibilities: Due to the smaller scale of an SME, employees may have the opportunity to take on a wider range of tasks and responsibilities, which can lead to greater cross-functional knowledge and skills.
- Opportunities for innovation: SMEs often have a culture of innovation and creativity, as they may need to differentiate themselves from larger competitors. This can create an environment where employees are encouraged to experiment and try new approaches.
- Direct impact on the company's success: As SMEs tend to have flatter hierarchies, employees may have a greater impact on the success of the company. Their contribution may be more visible and directly tied to the success of the company.
To sum up the general gist of the above points, working for a technical SME has its perks, including greater flexibility, close-knit teams, opportunities for innovation and a greater sense of ownership and impact.
However, there are some potential downsides, we've given you a few you might want to think about.
- Limited resources: SMEs may have limited financial resources and infrastructure compared to larger firms, which can often make it difficult to invest in training and development, or to provide competitive salaries and benefits packages.
- Uncertainty and risk: SMEs may be more vulnerable to economic fluctuations and market changes, which can lead to uncertainty and instability for employees.
- Lack of formal career paths: SMEs may not have clearly defined career pathways or promotion structures, which can make it difficult for employees to plan and advance their careers within the organisation.
- Limited opportunities for collaboration: Due to the smaller size of SMEs, employees may have limited opportunities to collaborate with colleagues from different departments or to work on large-scale projects.
- Potential for burnout: In an SME employees may be required to take on a wider range of tasks and responsibilities which can lead to burnout and work-life imbalance.
- Less visibility and recognition: SMEs may not have the same level of brand recognition/industry reputation compared to larger firms, which can make it more difficult for employees to establish themselves as industry experts or thought leaders.
Like with anything, it's good to be reminded of the benefits, it's just as important to consider the potential downsides before making a decision. SMEs may be a better fit for those of you who value flexibility, autonomy and the opportunity to take on a wide range of tasks and responsibilities, but they may not offer the same level of stability or opportunities for career advancement compared to larger companies.
If you're torn between the two (SMEs or big tech firms) chat to one of our experts for some extra guidance and to discuss which option would be your best fit. With opportunities in both sectors and a plethora of different scaled companies, we're certain we have a pathway for you!