Multi Nationals Vs. SME’s – Size Isn’t Everything!

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There often comes a time in a person’s career, when considering a move, that a crossroads is reached, thinking, where to next? The allure of Google, Facebook, Apple etc. excites people for a number of reasons, the brand on the CV which cannot be overlooked, the deeper pockets and the possibilities of progression.

Let me tell you a story about the lesser sought after animal, but in my opinion, a very strong contender for the title, the SME (Small to Medium-sized Enterprise).

Basically what we are talking about are the smaller companies and businesses littering our industrial estates, up and down the country. These are usually home-grown and depending on your personal preference, they could be for you and here is why:

Variety – Within multinationals, you tend to be put in a box. Systems and processes are in place and everyone has a highly defined role which keeps the machine going. However, in practical terms, this can often mean repetitious, high volume work. For some individuals, this can become quite tedious and completely void of job satisfaction.

Within an “SME”, no two days are the same. While you have certain duties outlined in a spec, this tends to be very vague in reality and basically, you muck in wherever is needed. From bringing accounts to trial balance to answering phones to HR, to PA, you do the lot and this can be quite exciting and indeed, rewarding.

Stability – Multinationals are judged by the bottom line, if it doesn’t make sense on paper, then change it or scrap it. This most likely will be completely out of your control. Market conditions, a country’s corporation tax rate or a new direction by head office can dictate the future. How many companies have moved a part or all of their business to another country because it makes “financial sense”? Too many!

SME’s are not, in general, like this. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think there is such a thing as a job for life anymore, however, SME’s are a way safer bet. Domestic companies stay domestic and are often ingrained into a location, because the owner resides there. They are part of the community and often feel a responsibility to remain there. A family atmosphere breeds family values.

Money – Not the SME’s strong point. Multi’s have more money, more perks, more career options…….full stop. While you can achieve a nice salary and at the higher end, possibly a profit share, they can’t compete.

Flexibility – A problem with multinationals from a practicality perspective is uniformity. Everyone at the same level must be treated the same, which to be fair is only right and proper. On the flip side, this can be to its detriment. From a recruitment perspective, you need to have a very similar background to those already in the department or someone may stand up questioning why you are there. If you need a couple of hours off, it needs to be noted and taken from holiday entitlement. Working from home for a day a week, for example, can be a chore, because if you get it, everyone will want it.

In an SME, once you have proved yourself, in order for the company to hang onto you and they are more likely to bend to your requirements because if you leave you are a huge loss.

Politics – Ambition breeds politics where the brightest and hardworking don’t always progress. Those who can talk the talk can often climb the corporate ladder and making yourself known to the head honchos can help you get ahead.

Smaller companies have little or no tolerance for BS. Being yourself, working hard and loyalty is the key to progression. Which do you want to be?

Relevance – Do you want to be a big fish in a small pond? Do you want to feel like you are making a difference? Do you need to feel like you belong? Do you want your work and decisions to make a difference? If so, SME is the way to go.

In the multinationals, due to the size and the restrictive functions within their roles, job satisfaction can be an issue. You may feel like just another number and if you were to leave, it’s business as usual and you would be replaced easily.

Don’t get me wrong, both options have positives and negatives, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to be just an employee, or something more.

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