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Work for a business with over 500 staff. It’s harder to work for a small business than work for a corporation.

Strategy, Talent
Jun 1, 2022
Guy littlejohn interview
Guy Littlejohn
Founder at Facets
Recruitment consultancy small big company

Can it be tougher to work for a smaller business than a corporation?

The allure of working with a large business - I get it. Play the game through the interview, ask some ‘vision, culture and progression’ questions, a few ‘what I learnt about myself when doing X last year’ and you’ve ticked the boxes. You’re in.

You get a cooler bottle and a branded notepad (not quite the environmentally responsible business they said) to settle you in. You meet HR, they say they’re there for anything (because they know your manager is hated), you meet lots of smiling people in different departments (who’ve rolled their eyes at setting the meeting from the same HR person), before you know it you’ve done no work but you’ve done your first month.

What a job. This is the life, sit around some people whose ‘team target/KPIs’ will be looked at every quarter. But the enterprise client partnerships the commercial teams have sometimes mean your job is safe. Unless you consistently are working on your first month’s performance through to month 14.

Your existence in different social, health and safety and culture building groups is again both the business and the employee ticking some ‘like me’ boxes. The strange thing is, you have time for this. The work is ok, but you’re involved in groups, another 6 months in the business for you.

Work for a boutique business? All of that goes. Work in the commercial team in a boutique business and every single decision is important. You’re under the microscope and every operational team member's job hangs in the balance.

Why do so many commercial people change roles or get let go at small businesses? It’s not because of the person, it’s the business. I say that with a caveat, sometimes the person hasn’t been trained or been given the time…actually that’s the businesses fault too.

Most people don’t grow up wanting to work in the commercial side of a business. It’s results focused, eyes on you, it’s not a kids or parents dream. ‘A tier 4 Magento agency sales person, that’s what I want to be mum’...never been said before.

Get it right and you’ll earn more money than nearly every other profession.

When you join a smaller company, whose commercial team is less than 5 people, everything you do impacts the other team members. 5 is perfect actually, you should have a focus - sales, partnerships, marketing, client development or talent. You won’t have it, you’ll be a team of 4 sales and one marketing. With one lazy commercial / sales director above you who’s dad knows the owner. He’ll get you to do all the unsexy side of sales and take the glory.

It’s harder, emotionally and physically, to work for a boutique business. You should do it if, and only if, the commercial leader is a rocket. Look at their background, how long have they been in the business, why?, ask them what training they will give you, ask them what commercial channels they have open for revenue and the killer questions - what do they do week in week out. If they say strategy, leave the meeting.

Work for one if;

They have an experienced end to end commercial leader already in place. One who will have you shadow them for the first 6 months with no target. One who’s not just sold Magento, but knows the whole ecommerce ecosystem. They should have the honesty to admit they have failed, know why and tell you exactly what process you are going to learn with them.

We’re going to launch a Facets Sales Academy to help all the people who disappointed Mum and Dad by not being doctors.

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