By Kevin Scott
I used to work for a large business, and now I spend my time working for OfficeDesk.com. Big difference. I have found there are advantages to each, but I want to focus in this post on the advantages of the small business, both for owners and employees. Since some of our best and most loyal customers are small businesses, this post is for them--for a dose of encouragement!
We'll start with the owners of small businesses. While there seem to be a mounting list of disadvantages for owners of small businesses (new health care reform regulations, new overtime pay regulations, potential new minimum wage regulations, the self-employment tax), they still have it good in a few ways.
First, they don't have to clock in and clock out! While they may put in more hours than they would at a traditional job, they choose when they work and how much they work for the most part. It is easy to forget in the midst of the stresses and pressures of running a business what it was like to have to be in the office by exactly8:30am, or stay and work until 5:00pm (even if your work for the day was done). But that is the situation most employees deal with on a daily basis, so the small business owner should be thankful for his or her flexible schedule.
Second, when they work, they aren't making money for someone else! Their work affects their own bottom lines and how much money they have in the bank. That's a huge psychological bonus! When you are busting your butt for an entire year to add value to your company and then at your annual review you get told the company is in a financial bind and cannot afford a raise for you this year, that stings. Now small business owners can go years with a shoestring budget, barely making it, but they can rest assured that if the company starts clicking and profits are rolling in,they will benefit! That's something to be thankful for.
Finally, they are free to dream, change course, end one endeavor and start another, allocate resources differently, or pursue some totally different angle at the drop of a hat. Those in the corporate world know how difficult it can be to get funding for something that wasn't in the budget, or to cut a program that may be wholly ineffective in favor of a new initiative (because it's always been done that way). This freedom to dream and pursue those dreams is something the small business owner must appreciate.
How about for the small business employees? What are some advantages they enjoy? First and foremost, they enjoy a relaxed working atmosphere. Anyone who has walked the halls of corporate America or dealt with the dreary confines of government offices knows what a delight it is (or would be) to walk into a relaxed office atmosphere where you can take a break and play some ping pong, or have an impromptu meeting over coffee in your relaxed attire and talk through issues at the drop of a hat. Many of these workers enjoy a flexible working schedule, so as long as they get their working hours in, precisely when they arrive and leave is not as important. The beauty of this flexibility cannot be overstated, and small business employees should appreciate it daily.
Second, small business workers have an open line of communication to the boss. If something is going wrong (a manager is treating people unfairly, or you feel unappreciated), at large businesses it is often impossible to voice such concerns. Often the only choice is to deal with it or leave. But in the majority of small business environments, you see the “boss” every day. You can ask him or her to grab a coffee because you have some concerns. This is also an invaluable asset.
Finally, small business employees often (though not always) get to enjoy the benefits of the company’s success. Perhaps it means the business expands and you get more responsibility (and a raise). Or perhaps it means that as the company succeeds and can hire more people, you can take more vacation time. Whatever the benefits, any good small business will reward its best people (hardest workers) when things start clicking. Again, this is just often not the case in the big business world.
So be thankful. Despite all the challenges, despite not always knowing if you’ll be in the red or the black, despite having to always have a “backup plan” in case things with this business don’t work out…be grateful for where you are sitting right now. It’s a good place. Even if it doesn’t get any better, trust me—it could be a lot worse!
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