Moving from a large organisation to a small business

The working environment within a large organisation is quite different to a small business and it can take time to adapt if you are making the switch from one to another.

This article outlines some of the differences and how to cope with this type of change.


Large Organisation

Small Business

Organisational politics Politics and how to influence others is the bedrock of most large organisations.  Watch and learn. Mostly politics has a lesser role compared to large organisations as there are fewer people. Usually there is closer accountability to the business results
Who does what There are departments to manage IT, HR, Marketing and you have to know who does what in order to get things done It’s a shock when you have to do it all yourself. No-one to fix your PC when it has a problem. Learn to be multi functional, or find a good supplier so that you can focus on doing what you are good at.
Culture “Avoiding blame” is a prevalent type of culture in some organisations. All actions get  documented and people cc’d into emails to avoid comeback or blame and to defend territories.. “Make it happen” is the culture in most small businesses, because there is no time for building empires.   Be collaborative and get it done is generally the best way to approach things.
Speed of Change Because there are different levels of management, and everyone wants their say, decision making can be slow, and making changes cumbersome. Small businesses flourish on their ability to adapt to customer needs, so make sure you are ready for the ride!  Procedures are more likely to be in someone’s head than written down!
Finances Large organisations have a budget for everything which will drive focus and behaviour.   At the end of the year, there may be a drive to spend any remaining monies so as not to lose them.  Therefore a good business case will often get you what you want. Cash flow is a far more topical issue for a small business, so resources are likely to be limited.  If one contract suddenly dries up the impact can have a devastating impact across the entire business.
Making a Difference Making an impact requires influence so having a good internal network is key.  You are unlikely to see the entire process so others involved in the supply chain may impact your ability to see the overall difference your work makes in the organisation. With a small business, it is likely that you are responsible for an entire process.  i.e. you are the marketing department,  so you will be directly connected to the customers. It also means there can be nowhere to hide so you have to take responsibility for your actions.

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