operations managerMany professionals prefer the benefits of working for larger corporations. There are the benefits packages, ample training, and perceived job security that make this option all too attractive. But with many people overlook is the benefits of working for smaller, growing companies. According to the National Small Business Association, small businesses make up 99.9% of the 26.8 million businesses in the United States. So if you are only looking for a large company opportunities, you can be leaving a lot on the table.

From a professional standpoint, the small company opportunities allow you to gain a broad range of skill sets because of the need for its employees to wear many hats. In larger organizations, everyone tends to be more specialized and compartmentalized. With numerous cards in their machinery, large enterprises love to take the plug and play approach with employees. The more focused your job, the more easier you are to replace. You’re smaller businesses tend to expose you to more, making you more valuable in the marketplace. It also better prepares you for running your own enterprise someday.

With smaller businesses, you are also able to ride the crest of success to larger financial gains. If you are fortunate enough to get in on the ground floor of a great business, you can find yourself wealthy very quickly. Just ask any Microsoft, Apple, or Amazon employee who had stock options from the start. When you come into a large business that is already established. Your salary and benefits pretty much represent the range of where you will be for some time. Promotion opportunities tend to be less available, and of course, the political environment will play a role.

As I mentioned earlier, the illusion of job security with a larger company it’s just that. An illusion. Larger companies will not think twice before jettisoning entire departments and divisions, dumping hundreds or thousands into the available work pool in an effort to streamline personnel costs and increase the bottom line for shareholders and senior management. The best part about  small company opportunities is that it is much easier to keep your ear to the ground as to what is happening with the company. You will usually see trouble coming.

Of course, your financial and family situation dictates which option is better for you in the long term. For example, and older professional may value the benefits package more so than the potential for explosive income growth or promotion. Younger professionals can afford the luxury of taking a position with a startup entity that may not offer benefits, but an excellent opportunity to get into something on the ground floor to experience the huge upside. One’s personality and tolerance for risk should also should dictate the type of position pursued. But either way, keep your head on a swivel and ear to the ground for rumblings of what is going on with your employer and your industry.