By Jared Weitz, founder & CEO of United Capital Source Inc.
Building and maintaining a loyal team are among the many obstacles to business growth. As the CEO of a business financing firm, I believe both tasks would be much easier if new small business employees knew what they were getting into.
While every small business is different, certain experiences are much more common with smaller businesses than their larger competitors. To someone who has never worked for a small business, these experiences might initially be interpreted as cause for alarm. Later on, however, the employee begins to realize that this is merely the nature of small businesses. What appears to be an inconvenience is actually an opportunity for a tremendously rewarding adventure.
Here are three pieces of advice for anyone who has just started working for a small business:
1. Don't doubt your ability to handle more work.
Since small businesses have smaller teams, employees tend to have heavier workloads than big business employees with similar titles. New employees start out with reasonable workloads, only to see them increase once the boss has established the new employee can be trusted with more responsibility. It might seem that the moment you feel comfortable with your daily routine, more work comes your way. You've never had so much on your plate before, so your gut reaction might be to panic or tell your boss you can't possibly fit more work into your day.
But then you realize that you actually do have more time for additional work because your primary tasks are getting easier and you are getting better at time management. If your boss left you alone, you would have eventually gotten the impression that he or she does not fully trust you and does not approve of your output thus far. New small business employees should embrace the heightened frequency of workload increases because, as any entrepreneur knows, this is what it takes for someone to get smarter and stronger on a constant basis.
2. Don't judge the company by its size.
The size of a younger small business can be a shock to new employees. They might begin to wonder how they'll be able to earn a decent living at such a tiny company, or whether the company can legitimately compete with industry giants. That is, until the new employee sees the value in what the company sells. You'll be a lot more optimistic about your company's future when you truly believe in its products or services. The company might be small today, but it's only a matter of time before the rest of your target audience is exposed to the incomparable quality of your work.
A great deal of the small businesses I've worked with were founded on the idea of doing something differently (and more effectively) than their competitors. Sometimes, it takes a while for audiences to see the value in something that is different than what they are used to. But as a new employee, you might not know what your company does better than your competitors until you make an effort to find out.
So, rather than being immediately disheartened by your new employer's size, ask your superiors about why they do not doubt the company's potential for tremendous success. Their answers may very well lead you to conclude that you are working with some of the smartest and most dedicated people in the business.
3. Get ready to make a difference.
Back in school, many people were afraid to be called on by the teacher at random. They just didn't like being put on the spot. But then came that teacher who put everyone on the spot. It was uncomfortable for some, but at least everyone knew they weren't being picked on, and that being called on at random was inevitable. This is very similar to the typical small business dynamic. You're going to get "called on" because your opinion matters, not because your boss or superiors are trying to sabotage you. It is this way for your co-workers, too.
You might not be used to speaking to the head of the company on a regular basis or being asked how you would personally solve a problem. And that's OK. Your boss likely knows this and isn't expecting you to immediately adjust to a new environment. When you eventually do adjust, it will be because you've embraced your integral role in the company's overall success.
New small business employees are often caught off guard by their inherent importance. It isn't long, however, before they begin to wonder how they could have tolerated something different.
Jared Weitz is founder & CEO of United Capital Source Inc.