What is a SME?
SME is the abbreviation for Small and Medium-sized Enterprise. Definitions vary, and the Enterprise Ireland definitions are the most appropriate in the Irish context.
A Small Enterprise is defined as:
an enterprise that has fewer than 50 employees and has either an annual turnover and/or an annual Balance Sheet total not exceeding €10m
A Medium Sized Enterprise is defined as:
an enterprise that has between 50 employees and 249 employees and has either an annual turnover not exceeding €50m or an annual Balance Sheet total not exceeding €43m
SMEs are the fastest growing sector in the Irish Economy and are great places to start building a career. There is often the misconception that SMEs only deal with local minor businesses, but this not true. Many have international business relationships and customers.
SMEs are dynamic, fast paced and challenging places to work. They offer fantastic opportunities and a wide range of experience. This is particularly appropriate for those who want to take responsibility and ownership of their roles. The working culture is often more relaxed and informal, with a coherent team culture being key to SME success.
The best thing about working in SME is the job satisfaction. You’re not an anonymous cog in a massive system, everyone will know you by name and it is up to make the most of that opportunity. You will be in direct contact with the most senior people in the company, be able to influence and deliver on a range of projects and see things through from inception to completion.
The job scope is more varied
As SMEs tend to be less rigid in structure, the job scopes are usually less defined. This gives you more opportunities to take on other roles and functions you might not otherwise be able to in bigger companies and, as a result, broaden your skill set and embellish your resume. You will be much more flexibility in the way you operate in the business, execute your job and achieve your and the company’s goals.
Get more hands-on learning
In large companies, many people have the same or similar roles. On-the-job training will very likely constitute of shadowing someone more senior in a position. However, at an SME, the approach is more hands-on, giving you more exposure and responsibilities. Many who have chosen to work in SMEs feel that they had more opportunities to develop their career.
Are you self-driven?
Self-driven employees are the best employees that any company can have. Since SMEs are at grassroot level, many employees are expected to work on various tasks which may not be related to their specialisation. This can create a greater sense of responsibility among the employees. It is because of this that SMEs can provide the challenge, excitement and opportunity to work on projects where you can carry the research/plan into execution and experience and learn from the direct impact of your work on the project.
Climb the career ladder much faster
The bigger the company, the more competition there is; to secure a promotion in a large company, you will really have to be something special. Whereas hard work in an SME will not go unnoticed, especially if you have proved your worth. You might just get to climb the career ladder a lot quicker in a smaller company.
The culture is a lot more personable
In an SME you get to interact lots of time with the principal/owner of the company and senior management. Since everyone is interlinked in some form or the other, everyone remains in contact with each other and answerable to every member and this creates an environment of healthy working culture and a sense of belongingness in the company. You can get to see your action impacting your work on a direct basis and thus make you feel actualised.
A leaner team is a close-knit team
That means the management is in closer proximity, sometimes with you working very closely with them. Knowing management on a personal level will come in useful when you have feedback or thoughts regarding company matters. People who started working for SMEs only because they could not find a placement in a bigger corporation realise they make more of a contribution to the company than their counterparts elsewhere.
Summary: KEY ADVANTAGES OF WORKING IN AN SME
- Research has shown that promotion prospects and job satisfaction are often higher with small companies.
- A higher profile within the business – you aren’t a small fish in a big pond, so if you perform well this will be notice.
- Variety, early responsibility, the opportunity to work on your own initiative, to work closely with other people (including senior management) and to have your work noticed.
- Flexibility to get involved in many varied tasks and functions: job roles are often less rigidly defined.
- A working environment that may be more informal and less bureaucratic than in larger organisations
- Feeling that you are making a real contribution to the business: seeing your ideas implemented and seeing projects through from start to finish.