According to the Small Business Administration, more than 99% of the U.S. economy is made up of companies with fewer than 500 employees. Furthermore, these small businesses account for nearly 50% of private-sector employment. However, only about half of these companies survive 5 years or more and the number drops to about one-third after 10 years. Given today’s competitive and shifting business landscape, small companies are hungrier than ever to build their leadership teams with successful, large corporation executives who have been to the mountaintop and know how to scale a business.
From a candidate perspective, the opportunity to ditch the highly bureaucratic environment of a large organization in exchange for a more nimble and entrepreneurial atmosphere can be quite appealing. However, moving from a highly matrixed organization with vast resources to a flatter organization with less layers and even less resources can be a challenge, and as a result, many executives fail to make the transition. Below are a few questions to ask yourself as you consider a transition from a large organization to a smaller one.
What is motivating me?
When we at Dinte meet with potential candidates for senior leadership roles, we like to gain an understanding of their motives for wanting to leave their current organization as well as their motives for considering a particular opportunity. There is a huge difference between running away from an organization and embracing a new one. Before you consider a change, make sure it’s the right opportunity rather than a chance to escape where you’re at.
Is it the right cultural fit for me?
Many executives think they know what they are getting when they move to a smaller organization – quicker decision making, more freedom, an entrepreneurial atmosphere, and a far less politically charged environment. Although often the case, these suspicions don’t always paint the entire picture. When considering the jump to a small organization, make sure you have a true and complete understanding of what it would be like to work for the organization.
Am I prepared to do it all myself?
Smaller organizations thrive on their ability to react quickly to the ever changing demands of the market. However, with this nimbleness comes minimal resources and far less infrastructure than their large counterparts. Small organizations require senior leaders who are able to wear many hats and make quick decisions. The CEO might have to schedule his or her own meetings and prepare all of the materials for an upcoming presentation. This is often one of the biggest shocks when large corporation executives move to smaller companies. A successful transition will require an individual who is adaptable, quick, and willing to roll up his or her sleeves.