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SMEs & You – smaller businesses, bigger opportunities?

Fed up with the same old routine day in day out in your current job? Could 2017 be the year you get more variety, flexibility and satisfaction by working for a small business?

They say the best things come in small packages, right? So, with presents on our minds team Angel thought it was a great time to talk SMEs – that’s small and medium sized businesses to you and me.

While you might think big means established and renowned, it can also mean you’re just one fish in a very large pond. What’s more, great SME growth means they’re often more likely to be hiring than bigger companies.

So if you’ve fancied making the leap into SME waters there’s no time like the present! This Q&A Wednesday we asked our consultants…

1. What is an SME exactly?

As you said, SME literally means small and medium sized enterprises – or businesses.

The current EU definition of a small company is one with less than 50 employees, while under 250 is considered medium-sized.

2. So, why can small be a better career option for some?

SMEs may pay less than their bigger counterparts but often offer more flexibility and variety. Tweet: SMEs may pay less than their bigger counterparts but often offer more flexibility and variety. #QAngel @Angel_HR_UK
In a larger, more corporate organisation, for example, departments and processes are usually very structured.

That means you can be dealing with only one aspect of a company, while with an SME you often get to be involved in more than one department or aspect.

3. So I could be wearing many hats?

Yes. You may go in for an admin support role, say, and while that may concentrate almost entirely on data input and letter writing for a big organisation, in a smaller one, you may find yourself acting as a kind of PA or doing a bit of marketing as well.

For people in higher roles an SME position can be the perfect opportunity to influence all aspects of a business.

4. You can have more impact working in an SME, then?

Working for an SME can give you an opportunity to be directly involved with the management team and business decision-making processes.

Which is perhaps why people often quote higher levels of satisfaction working for SMEs.

5. You mean people are often happier working for SMEs?

Yes. A recent LinkedIn Work Satisfaction Survey showed that the UK’s SME employees currently enjoy the country’s highest levels of job satisfaction. These findings back up TUC stats and other surveys too.

What’s more, working for SMEs is becoming more attractive with over a third (37%) of workers saying they’d take a pay cut for the chance to work for a start-up, according to LinkedIn.

6. What are working patterns like?

Well, flexibility goes both ways. As well as being engaged by the constantly changing workload, SME employees often have more freedom to choose their working patterns.

The FSB has said:

“Small business owners know that the greatest asset is their staff and they are more likely to treat them as individuals and recognise their needs.”

7. So smaller businesses are great for people with other responsibilities?

Yes. Parents or those with other caring responsibilities might find roles which fit around their lives better than the usual 9-5.

While, those at a career crossroads might want to use their time with an SME to gain new skills and experiences across a broader spectrum than might otherwise be available to them with a big business.

8. Smaller businesses can be a great experience for graduates then?

SMEs offer a breadth of experience which bigger business often can’t provide – perfect for graduates and career changers. Tweet: SMEs offer a breadth of experience which is perfect for graduates and career changers. #QAngel @Angel_HR_UK
Plus many smaller and medium sized businesses can give people the chance to work for a company in line with their values.

Say, you’re a chef into creating organic or natural food, there are plenty of SME food businesses you’d love to work with making waves out there.

9. But aren’t all these SMEs in trendy London hotspots?

Yeah, London is still start-up central, but recent Trainline business booking data suggests that’s changing.

Statistics show that SME business travel to Brighton jumped over 230% in the last 4 years, while Swindon, Peterborough and Northampton also enjoyed increases.

That seems to point to more and more SMEs willing to go further afield and bodes well to more jobs being created around the country – not just in London.

10. What should I do if I want to work for an SME?

SMEs are looking for some particular soft skills, so you need to demonstrate:

Flexibility – of course!
An ability to pick up skills quickly – often without formal training
Common-sense – you may be manning the ship alone!
So, you’ll also need to be able to work with minimal supervision
An ability to pitch in – you’ll need to step in or up when others are away
A results-driven work ethic – you have to pull your weight in an SME or you’ll be found out fast!

Now over to you:

Have any thoughts on what you’ve read? Are you searching for a new job? Want to ask about working for an SME? Got any burning questions we could put to future Q & Angel guests? As ever, we want to hear what you’ve got to say!

Some next steps:

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