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3 Ways a Job at a Small Business Can Help Your Career

Daniel B. Kline, The Motley Fool

Big companies have a lot of advantages over their smaller rivals when it comes to attracting employees. They might offer more perks, better advancement opportunities, and even higher pay.

Working for a small company, however, can have its own benefits for your career. The reasons that smaller is sometimes better might not be as obvious.

If you get a chance to work for a small company, don't dismiss it out of hand. Consider the offer and how the potential experience could allow you to grow in ways that would not happen at a large company.

People work in an office.

Working at a small company might allow you to grow your skills faster. Image source: Getty Images.

1. You can do more

When you work for a large company, jobs tend to be well defined. There might be some opportunity to stray outside your lane, but generally, that's not the case.

At a small company, roles won't be as clear. There might not be as many specific job titles, and responsibilities will almost certainly be vaguer. Even if your company has all the same positions as a bigger rival, it won't have as many people holding each one, and there should be opportunities to learn new skills, pitch in during a vacation or illness, and experience work outside your core competency.

2. Access to the boss

At a large company, the CEO will likely be someone you rarely see and almost never have personal interaction with. It's not that the person in charge doesn't care about you. There are simply too many people under the CEO to interact with everyone.

Smaller companies don't have that problem. The CEO won't be some vague person you only see at full-company meetings, but rather someone you get to work with and maybe even learn from. Even just being able to see how the person in charge operates and seeing decisions made up close can offer major benefits for your career.

3. You can create your own path

Small businesses sometimes have a tough time attracting top-tier employees. That gives you leverage when considering a job with a smaller outfit. You can use that to negotiate a job that helps you grow in ways that you probably couldn't at a larger company.

Maybe you want to be mentored by the CEO or the top person in your department. Perhaps you want to learn a new area of the company that will make you a more attractive candidate when it's time to move on. No matter what it is, make it part of your negotiations before you accept the job.

Bigger isn't always better

It's also important to know who you are. Some people get lost in a large company and don't do well as a small piece in a big machine. If that's you -- or if you don't operate well without being in on a lot of decisions -- then a small company might be a better choice.

Don't undervalue the importance of being a bigger part of a smaller whole. Smaller companies might not offer all the non-work benefits that a bigger company can, but the work opportunity could more than make up for that.

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