Why I Decided to Leave a Large Corporation to Work for a Small Business
In today’s growing economy, with many opportunities available for those who are interested, a lot of professionals are faced with difficult career choices. There’s a lot to consider when changing jobs. The top three factors for me were: family, career growth and development, and compensation and benefits. While I understand there are many other factors in making a jump from a large corporation to a growing small business, these are the key factors that ultimately led me to my decision.
As I progressed in my career over the first 11 years with a large EPC Corporation, I was given many opportunities and offered the usual gamut of benefits (401K, decent health insurance, and industry-specific training). With the nature of construction projects, my career provided opportunities to move around the United States to places I would have otherwise not had the pleasure to see, but these moves started to be more and more challenging as my kids got older.
I’m now in my 30s with a wife and two kids, which is not as conducive to moving hundreds or even thousands of miles every few years. My family was the number one factor for me in making the decision to make a career move. As my kids started school, I wanted to settle down closer to my family allowing my kids the same opportunities I had growing up to develop a relationship with aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents, and friends.
The small company I landed at was Nexus PMG. Not only was the location close to home, but they also provide more flexibility to work from home and take time off when need it. I don’t have to miss those special moments with my family. This flexibility does come with an expectation that you will put in the extra time to complete projects with tight deadlines when necessary, but that expectation fits my expectations.
Career Growth & Development
In a large corporation, there are many opportunities for growth. There are also layers of politics, years of service constraints, and an ever-growing concern of being treated as another number instead of a contributing individual, especially during cyclical downturns. I began to reflect on my career and realized that after being at the company for 11 years, I had developed limited management skills and felt less and less like I was making a difference. The organizational structure and reporting often offer the “that’s not my job” excuse and mentality as acceptable. It takes the wind out of your sails.
Therein lies the challenge. Most large corporations start with a passionate team that believes in the vision and purpose of the company over their individual gains. As companies morph into these large, over-managed organizations, they, in turn, decrease the probability of continuing to hire individuals who are as driven and motivated by the business. The business demand and shareholders begin to drive the company to grow at risk of diluting the culture and pride that once existed. This decreases the ability to attract and retain the best employees.
In a small business, every individual contributes to the shared success or failure of projects. The team collectively tackles projects and grows together through them. Individuals are expected to help wherever possible for the greater good of the company and in turn, share the benefits of the success they help to develop. The opportunity to have influence and be challenged daily with new tasks inspires me to grow my knowledge of the industrial business sector.
The opportunity to be a part of the success and gain a vested interest in the company over time was also a huge part of my decision.
Last But Not Least: Compensation & Benefits
With a larger corporation, there are generally good benefits and compensation is relatively comparable across the board. Rarely do large corporations offer incentives like stock options, bonuses, or company stake beyond general benefits to anyone outside of management. As you move through your career at a large corporation, compensation becomes more and more political and less about your contribution or ability.
Within a small business, your contributions and ability to deliver are often compensated, and incentives like bonuses, stock options, and commissions are more likely to be provided. This provides an added incentive for personal growth and development. Small businesses generally offer smaller benefit packages, but these may be outweighed by the incentives they offer. Rarely would there be a situation where I would suggest a move from a large corporation without some element of increased compensation.
All things considered, the transition to a small company seemed to be the right step for me at this point in my career. It has reignited my passion for learning, and being around like-minded team members has motivated a good work ethic. It’s helped me to be more confident in taking on new challenges and provided me the opportunity to be closer to my family. Although challenging and somewhat scary, sometimes you have to try on new shoes to see if they fit. If for some reason they don’t, you’ll be all the wiser for trying.