Working in a small start up business will probably mean that you’re also working as a part of a small team – you may even be the only person working there for a while! If you’re the business owner, you’ll already have a whole list of positives that remind you why working in a start up environment is right for you, but when it comes to selling the benefits in to potential employees, it can sometimes be tough to come up with the answers.
We talked to two small businesses to find out the pros and cons to working in a start up environment.
The brand new small business
Simon and Matt started their digital marketing business in summer 2014, setting up a limited company in a serviced office. Starting out with just two directors in an office with eight desks, they’ve quickly grown their workload and their team.
For you, what are the three main benefits of working in a small business environment?
“As a start up, it’s critical that everyone works as a team, seeing how each person’s cog turns the machine, especially in the early stages. Throwing the ideas out there and getting answers straight back is invaluable, and we’ve been able to move forward quickly knowing that we’re there to support each other. So the three main benefits for us would be:
- The opportunity to take responsibility
- The opportunity to learn – daily
- The opportunity to do it our way
How have you sold the benefits in to your new recruits?
“That’s easy! A start up can offer a really awesome working experience. We’re not tied down with any corporate policy and as long as the work gets done, we’re easy going and can offer some real give and take to how things work.
“As the directors of the business, we’re also right in with the action, and on hand to provide a unique and valuable learning experience for our employees. We’re also keen to learn from them too – a start up is all about ideas, and if someone has an idea that could help the business do better, we’re truly open to it.”
Are there any downsides to being in a small office?
“When the heat is on, everyone gets to know about it, and we’ve learned that sometimes it’s a good idea to take yourself out of the office so that everyone else can get on with their own tasks. There really is no hiding when there’s just one room to work from. Having said that though, actually having people close at hand to share a stressful moment with can also be great, and often the best solutions come from someone who’s slightly removed from the situation.”
The five year old business
Sarah started her business in 2009 and was joined by her first employee around a year later. They didn’t set up a business premises until 2014, choosing instead to work from home. Now Sarah and eight of her team work in a serviced office, with other employees still working remotely.
Why did you decide to take on a business premises?
“When there were just a couple of us, we were pretty much always on, so working remotely gave us the flexibility to really live with our work. As the business has grown though, being closer to my employees became a real business need. I had the opportunity to grow the business more in early 2014 and the time was right to take on an office space. It means we’re closer and can support each other better, and it has also allowed me to rekindle some work/life balance too!”
What are the downsides to working in a small office?
“HR issues can be challenging in a small office, whether that’s from a management point of view or from on a personal level. If someone has a problem, then it can quickly become common knowledge. So our HR is carried out off site and we have other meeting spaces available to talk with people more privately.
How do you sell working in a small business environment to potential employees?
“Working in a small business is so much more exciting than working for a larger, corporate business. There are no other departments to buffer the challenges, and solutions are personal – working in a small business you get real responsibility. You’re also much more visible, so when your solutions pay off, you’re much more likely to be rewarded for them.
“I’d also like to think we give our employees much more opportunity – they get to do a lot more and when the business grows, they’re right there to develop with it.”
The small business environment can offer a lot more freedom and flexibility, and the potential to grow. So while in the short term, the financial benefits may be less attractive than those offered by bigger corporates, the development and long term financial opportunities of working in a start up, make a career in a new business a good catch.