Could an SME be the best place for you?

There is a growing understanding that a CV littered with big names is no longer a guarantee of a stellar career. It all depends on what you achieved with them.

When people start thinking about moving careers, the hope that the “grass is greener” is never far from their minds. However, the bigger the field, the higher the likelihood that there will be bare and worn patches where nothing grows at all, and the lower your personal impact on changing things. With a smaller business, there is every chance to find a lush little field of paradise, and even if it isn’t lush, it doesn’t take too much grass seed to get things growing again.

The risks and benefits of moving to a smaller business have been widely discussed, and it is an area that we are particularly close to as we work with a large number of food and drink start-ups in the healthy eating space. We would never seek to persuade someone to move to an SME, but those who do make a move successfully often have the same reasons.

Yes, the lush field might get sold to become a housing development – in a small business you will always be at the mercy of the founders. However, if you trust them and they trust you, you have the opportunity to “own” your part of the business utterly and totally. An entrepreneurial business requires everyone to make entrepreneurial decisions – there is no time for management by committee.

You might need to get your hands dirty and sow the seeds of growth yourself – but if this is done with a sense of loving ownership, then you will make sure that you don’t miss an inch. Somehow we are so much more engaged with our work when the results of our actions are within reach. You don’t have to sign ten forms to be able to purchase the seeds, and you don’t have to wait until a machine is available to sow them. You simply walk out into the field and do your thing.

You might think that a big field allows more scope for creativity, but fields don’t tend to become big without a huge number of restrictions on what you can do with the land. Growing a smaller field by 20% gives a huge amount more creative license than growing a big field by 2%. In the big field that will have “been there and done that” before – in a small field, the sky is the limit.

In big fields, data is king. You are given minute details about the performance of every blade of grass, and there are a large number of “specialists” who offer advice on what to do with them. In a small field, there are no other experts, and you have to work out the data yourself. Not having these support systems is undeniably hard work, but, on the other hand, if you understand where the data comes from, you will have a better understanding of what to do with it.

Lastly, I would say that smaller fields have greater chances of success these days. Niche businesses in consumer goods (for example) are finding it easier to work with the bigger retailers, and that element of risk has been somewhat reduced. If the product is right and the team is behind it, amazing things can happen.

We are currently recruiting for a great portfolio of SME businesses across sales, marketing, procurement, supply chain and NPD. If you are interested in hearing about these, please call us on 0207 042 3800.