Should I work for a small or big company?

The food industry is in a transition period. The number of small companies are increasing because consumer curiosity has allowed many food markets to open. This openness has become an incubator for food start-ups, increasing the number of businesses looking for young talent to hire.

This atmosphere has caused bigger companies to feel the heat with these innovative products coming from smaller brands.

Though what classifies a small or large company?

According to Statistics Canada small businesses are businesses with 1 to 99 employees; Medium-sized businesses are businesses with 100 to 499 employees; Large businesses are businesses with 500 employees or more.

Now is an exciting time to be a new graduate! Graduates more then ever before have choices about where they want to work.

However, this decision can be difficult because there are many reasons why someone would work for either size company.

So how do you decide which is best for you? Below are the advantages or disadvantages of either working at a small or large company.

The advantages of working in a large company

  • Learning Opportunities
    • Generally larger companies have more resources and systems in place to help you learn as an employee. These places may have mentorship programs or learning courses which simply aren’t available at smaller companies. Some even offer job rotations where you can try different roles to see what works best for you. Because these places are larger they have more money to spend – something you generally wouldn’t get from a smaller companies.
  • Job Stability
    • Working at larger companies means that if the product is well established like Doritos you are less likely to find yourself without a job tomorrow. Unless something major happens or unexpected happens you generally will have a stable work environment
  • Salary/Benefits
    • Generally, larger companies have better benefits then smaller companies. Many offer health care packages and offer benefits such as paid vacations, paid holidays and retirements benefits. You might start off with a higher salary compared to a smaller company, but this isn’t always the case.

The disadvantages of working in a large company

  • Flexibility
    • Some large companies thrive on having individuals becoming specialized in an area. This means people can become bored because they are doing the same tasks for days on end. Additionally, big corporations generally are more rigid and if they have rules in place you must follow them. If you want to break these rules, then you must ask for permission because of their rigidity.
  • Slowness
    • Due to the sheer size in a large company there is likely a lot more resistance to change. If you want something to get changed this could mean multiple levels of management discussion and a lot of time. Something that can changed in the span of a month in smaller company could take months in a larger company.
  • Facelessness
    • Many people feel that when they work in a larger company they are just another number. This is understandable when working with hundreds of employees in one building. It is harder to see how your actions directly play a role in everything.

The advantages of working in a small company

  • More personable
    • Smaller companies mean that there are less people which can be a good thing. This means you are more likely to know everyone you work with by name. Many people like this because it makes work feel more like a family and more engaging.
  • Broaden your skill-set
    • Because there are less specialized roles this means that there are more opportunities to learn new things. As a result, you have an easier time seeing your actions making difference in the organization.
  • You learn more aspects of the business
    • If you work in a food company with only one building, you will have a greater understanding of how everything works together. Because there are less people you can see how each action makes a difference. You will have more chances to work with others and understand what their role is in the company.

The disadvantages of working in a small company

  • Salary
    • If you are just starting out in your career you might not receive as high of salary as you would working in a larger company- this includes benefits. If the smaller company is just in it’s starting stages, this could mean no benefits at all. If you find out that the company doesn’t offer them and this is a priority to you,  it might be better to search for another place to work.
  • Less perks
    • Small businesses don’t have as much money to play around with compared to large ones. This usually means they can’t afford the kind of top-of-the-line software and equipment that bigger companies can. You have to work with older equipment, but this tends to mean that the product is more the focus then the perks.
  • Promotion
    • If a company is only composed of 50 people, there is not much room to grow up. If you want to get promoted this usually means waiting for someone to leave – which may take time.  If you are concerned about titles then this can be a big draw back for smaller companies.

Author: Veronica Hislop – Veronica is a recent FoodGrad working as Quality Assurance Technician at a snack food company. She graduated with a Chemistry degree at Ryerson University and has a passion for bringing awareness to sustainability in the food industry. When Veronica is taking a break from her food endeavors you will find her at home reading a great novel and playing with her cats.


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