Changing Jobs – Huge Company to a small company: Pros / Cons

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  • Changing Jobs – Huge Company to a small company: Pros / Cons
  • wurzelcube

    I currently work for a huge global company (worldwide 200K employees) and am considering a leaving for role in a much smaller UK company (100 employees); broadly speaking the remuneration is the same give or take 1 or 2K and a benefit here and there. So here I am on an internet forum seeking advice from people I don’t know that could potentially lead to a big change in my career 😀

    Both are similiar roles but the scale of projects and business are worlds apart – multimillion pound deals vs 1,2 or 300K deals in the smaller company. To put this really into perspective some of the deals I’ve worked on in the past are bigger than the small company’s published revenue figures for 2012.

    My motivation for looking to leave my current position is that I don’t feel valued as an employee, don’t feel I’m fairly rewarded for my efforts and I’m just a small fish in an enormous pond. The new opportunity is with an expanding local company, potentially I could end up being a big fish in a small pond and it would be an end to the consultancy / living out of a suitcase lifestyle.

    My concerns are that I will be leaving my security blanket of a big company behind me (including a decent pay out if I was ever made redundant) and joining a tiny by comparison organisation of which I only have limited finincial insight as it’s privately owned. But on the flip side my gripes where I currently am will never be resolved; the biggest question I can’t answer is whether or not I’m about to commit career suicide.

    Has anyone else left a market leading, global company to join a an upcoming small company? and if so were there any regrets?

    Premier Icon PMK2060

    Currently work for a family owned company that employs 120 people. The positives are the lack of politics you often get at bigger companies. The negatives are the lack of promotion prospects once you get to a certain level and the widespread nepatism.


    Yes, it was awful.

    Family run stitch up. No promotion prospects as all senior posts where allocated to family members.

    Very small company. 18 staff or thereabouts.

    The owner also seemed to hate his job, which didn’t help.


    I’m pondering applying to a smaller company for a tech role which sounds interesting and would be a significant stup up in ££ stakes. Currently work for a mega-corp and salary rises are things of folklore from bygone days. Current position is cushy though so it’s all about breaking through that comfort layer.

    Went from company employing 35000 to a family owned firm employing 35 about 2 years ago. I have no regrets but it is a completely different game and the impact and level of difference will really depend on your role and what you want out of your future career… And of course the company.

    From my own experience:


    Less politics and backbiting
    More varied workload – in smaller companies people tend to pitch in and get involved on other bits of the business.
    More of a stake in seeing the company succeed
    Greater chance to manage your own work area / budget and see projects through from beginning to end
    Depending on the company, better recognition of the work you do


    Benefits / pension package not so good
    Potentially Less job security
    Increased reliance on you as an individual – less cover for holidays / sickness etc do can sometimes be difficult to take a break
    Fewer promotion prospects

    For us, making the move meant that we got to move to a beautiful part of the country, I have a 10 minute commute and I get to see more of my little boy, so having already done the career thing the pros far outweigh the cons.


    You will probably have to work, and show you are working, not just sit at a desk looking busy as is what happens in large companies.


    I went the other way – 100 employees to 65,000. Big thing i found in a small company was the glass ceiling and lack of promotion at previous company. We has a president and vice president (finance) who were number 1 and 2, if either had resigned they would have been replaced externally, I’m sure. There were about 5 of us in similar snr management positions and the backstabbing, egos and general oneupmanship was pathetic at times. In fact most of the time!! My next promotion would have to have been to President – a role I neither wanted nor could have done at this stage in my career. For me, big fish in a little pond was vastly overrated!!

    Anyway, contrast is that people now know my name because of what I achieve rather than simply my position. Sure, there’s some politics, but nowt compared to the smaller company…

    Premier Icon footflaps

    I left a multinational for a smaller company about 15 years ago. Best move I ever made, there world is your oyster in a small company – none of the ‘small cog in a large machine’ nonsense, the only limits are those you impose on yourself.

    The main con is if you’re a dyed in the wool middle manager / consultant who just spouts BS and doesn’t actually do anything – you won’t last 2 months….


    I was at my happiest in work when I worked for an owner-managed company of 25 people. It was hard work and intense but I made quite a few friendships from that place – you work much more closely together in a small co.

    IME it’s not as simple as large vs small, it’s how well run the company is, and what suits you.
    A badly-managed company will fail, whatever size it is…

    If you like autonomy, like working towards a common goal and like a big family atmosphere then small co may well work for you.

    People who just play at management games, who only care about their own status and job title, don’t last in a small co so they tend not to be there.

    In short you have to do your job, there’s nowhere to hide – which is enormously satisfying IME. But hard work.

    But not all small co.s are the same, I’ve worked in other small companies which were nothing like as well-run or fun… Feeling valued comes down to your manager and the culture IME, not the size of the business


    Its a risk but isnt the bigger risk doing nothing?

    Premier Icon Del

    wot brooess said.
    you can’t just tick the boxes in a small concern. assuming the company has a quality approach, if you don’t take that approach too, it’ll be noticed.

    Premier Icon theotherjonv

    OP; are you me? I have to decide in the next couple of days whether after 17 years with an $8 billion american fortune 500 company, to leave and join a £30 million UK company instead.

    Scary isn’t it?

    Premier Icon mikewsmith

    Throwing round project values is a bit false it’s all relative to the size of the organisation. I went from a 15k people company to a 3 person one (I am number 3) the work I used to do was on multi million pound jobs currently work on smaller stuff that matters more to the business.

    No room to hide but more chance for honesty.
    Be prepared to do anything and don’t expect stuff to just happen (it stationary travel etc)
    Also ask some serious questions on pipeline of work and growth plans. No growth in the right area no promotion. Potential for no annual rise etc.

    Premier Icon rickmeister

    I;m with Brocese as well.Mrs Rickmeister has just left a company of 6000 and joined a company of 12. Took VR and was back in a job in less than two weeks.

    The culture is the defining thing that sealed teh deal even though they matched her salary inc bonus.

    Happy job = happy life plus we move to the Black Forest and its near to a lot of good riding…

    The main con is if you’re a dyed in the wool middle manager / consultant who just spouts BS and doesn’t actually do anything – you won’t last 2 months….

    Harsh but so true – I know people in my old firm who wouldn’t last 5 mins.

    Another thing I forgot to add in my earlier post is that I find there is much more of a JFDI type approach in a smaller business with less of the corporate bureaucracy that you get in big concerns. I installed a new phone system here in about 4 weeks… similar thing where I worked previously would have been an 18 month project with tendering / risk assessments / project meetings and everyone and his dog getting involved etc.

    The up-side of this is that things get done really quickly, downside is of course that it’s not always so structured and well-planned.

    I personally find it quite refreshing to be able to get on and do things but have started to encourage a more structured, but still pragmatic approach to project planning. If you’re the sort of person who likes everything planned to the nth degree you may struggle in a smaller concern.


    Smaller companies can be a lot more personal – thats a good thing in some ways, but HR issues become messy – when you’re asking for something like flexible working in a big company, then its got very laid out formal structures for dealing with it, and IME is dealt with in a less judgemental manner – thats the rules, everyone lives by them, not a problem if you utilise them, no big deal – in a smaller company, asking for flex working or something similar becomes a big deal, and can often carry repercussions…


    Not on the same scale as the OP but from a 10000 employee company to one with 25. I enjoyed it for the most part. I liked that there was no hiding place so everyone had to work hard, there was none of the carrying you find in bigger companies. Slackers were out which appealed to me.

    So everyone is working very hard, it’s very interesting and challenging work and I’m getting paid well and being recognised. Little things too like they’d trust us with a credit card to buy stuff we needed and we’d get involved in all parts of the business. Maybe a few too many ‘owners’ for a company of that size but it seemed unimportant at the time.

    Then things started to sour a little, a few of the owners left, the atmosphere changed and then two days before pay day, I get a phone call to tell me they’ve called in the receivers. No warning, just bang, get off site, no money…nothing. I’m owed 6 grand in wages and expenses. I get a few statuary quid but that’s it. The next 6 months are hell. I sell bikes, cancel holidays, nearly go under myself.

    Then I find most of the owners have started trading under different names using the same products we were making then. I go ballistic, let all the government agencies I know what is going on, I try to get the main culprits closed down but they’re too sly.

    I’m still angry about it now.

    HTH. 😉

    Premier Icon rickmeister

    Think thats it to Samuri, its the attitude that sets the culture which makes it a great place or not. Ms Rickmeister has been in great departments at Standard Life with a manager that set a brilliant culture and everyone in the team loved it…

    Then changed teams and it was abysmal. Lets not even talk about the ignorant practice manager that does your appraisal…. talk about ignorant and judgemental… and that punctured the balloon of happiness.

    Lets not even talk about the ignorant practice manager that does your appraisal….

    For me, it was worth leaving my old job just for the fact that I’ll never have to deal with a “practice manager” again… since when did it become acceptable for big companies to assign you a line manager who knows cock all about the job you do!?


    I left a large company who were well known and respected in there field and started work for a start up, the new company is more laid back and I’m actually valued rather than a cog in the machine, promotion at the moment is limited but looking forward if the company continues to do well new roles will appear.
    It’s always a risk leaving the known for the unknown for me it was a great move.


    Thanks all this is really helpful feedback. The key thing for me is to understand the company’s financial results, the aspirations / vision of the owners, what the pipeline and strategy are looking like for the next 12 to 24 months and whether I believe in it.

    Premier Icon tonyg2003

    I went from a +1000 people company to a 5 people start up and stayed their 7 years. We were 60 people and got bought by a 2500 employee company. I lasted 3 months and I was back to a 35 people company. I must like smaller companies.

    The thing with small companies is that you have a lot of freedom to influence the company. The bad thing is that you have to do it. They are certainly places for people with “can do” attitudes.

    Premier Icon rickmeister

    Sprocket.. Thats EXACTLY the reason she took VR. The practice manager was a disaster. She knew nothing, was making stuff up based on her own innacurate perspectives and not taking any notice of business results or feedback from others.

    We built a case, gathered feedback and took the practice managers report to pieces, then got her changed. It cost a 6k loss of bonus after a great 18yr career with nothing but praise.

    I can’t wait until the last bit of cash is paid then I’m writing the practice manager some feedback of my own…

    Based on a Steve Jobbs / Apple business model… but Standard Life is a loooong way from Apple’s culture…

    and breathe…

    Wurzel…. lok at companies house info or pm me and I can do it for you…


    The practice manager was a disaster

    Ours is so slimey you expect to have oil on your hand when you shake. The worst person for the job, ever. Seems to have escaped being given the sack despite our new practise structure being branded a failure though.


    I went from a multi billion dollar software company that had a bunch of useless public school boys in management and set up a crap bike shop which would never have the likes of you lot ever darken its doors but its the best thing I ever did 🙂

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