When setting out on your career path you will most probably encounter many choices that you will have to make. Some of the choices that could face you include which city or country that you work in, the role that you work as and most importantly the company that you work for. Having spent over ten years working between two ferry companies based in Dublin and the south-east Ireland I have vast experience of working in both large internationally based firms and also working part of a one ship, small company operation sailing between Ireland and France. This article will discuss the pros and cons of working for a big company versus a family run business.
Working for a Big Company
You feel great pride and prestige when working for one of the world’s largest companies, particularly when you work in a role that has a large influence on the success of that company. I was very lucky to have worked for the world’s largest ferry company (I did this role having already spent five years working for a Wexford based ferry company, the company that I began working for went on to buy the business of my then current employers).
What I noticed most about working in a big company versus working with a small business is the GLARING difference in budgets that are available i.e. big companies get massive discounts from suppliers when making consistent purchases. Another big difference would have pertained to marketing and selling. Big companies can justify the use of elaborate and costly marketing agencies. These agencies are often very capable and skilled, it is just they can be difficult for smaller companies to afford and to justify.
Working with a big company does come with its fair share of great advantages. Typically Irish offices are catagorised as something like EMEA Head Office. Having an EMEA office more often than not means that you have a large U.S. office to visit somewhere based more-often-than-not in a large and beautiful city. If you are young, without a family and relatively fancy-free this can be a fantastic bonus in your job that not lots of people get to enjoy.
Another advantage of working with a larger company would be the multiple layers to that business. By there being multiple layers it means that there are lots of opportunities to move up the ranks. Large and successful international companies typically see fast expansion and lots of new roles being added to the business. This won’t happen nearly as much in small companies, at least not in my experience.
If there can be any disadvantage to working with a large business can be that learning on the job can sometimes be harder. You will need to work in a very tight and well-defined job which does not leave much scope to work outside. With this opportunities to learn and to expand your skills can be diminished. There are companies that invest heavily in the learning of their people, however, my experience has been somewhat different. I learned in my spare time.
Working for a Small Family Run Business
Working for a smaller, family run business in Ireland can be an enormously fulfilling career. For me, the best thing about working for a small family run business is how much you can learn and how much responsibility that you will get quickly. If you are working for a small family-run business your involvement will most likely have a massive impact on the success or failure of that business. I was so lucky having worked for a small business based in the south-east of Ireland. I got to manage great responsibility and had a large influence on the success of that company. So much so that a large multinational purchased that company in mid-2014.
As mentioned above, the learning opportunities in a small company often greatly outstrip what happens in a large company. In a smaller company, your role might cover the tasks that two or three people might be doing in a larger company. This can be both rewarding and frustrating. Rewarding from the point of view that if there is a success it will most likely be attributed to you. In smaller businesses, you will find that financial rewards can be slower to come and this could be frustrating, especially if you are comparing yourself to your equals who could be doing less work in the larger multinational firms.
Pros of Working for a Larger Company
Better chances of international travel
Better chance of financial promotion
Knowledge transfer is more probable
Cons of Working for a Larger Company
Learning can be slower
You will be exposed to far less versus in a smaller company
It can be competitive amongst peers
Pros of Working for a Small Family Run Business
You will learn lots and you will learn it very fast
You will have the responsibility that you would not have in a large company
You can be based anywhere in the country and not necessarily confined to the major cities
Cons of Working for a Small Family Run Business
It can be less financially rewarding and opportunities to move into different or higher roles might not exist
Knowledge transfer from older or more experienced staff might not be possible as there might not be anybody to ask
You could be burdened by a massive work-load as in smaller companies you are often expected to get more done