Q. I have always worked in a large corporate environment, but given the downturn in the economy, I was wondering if it might be wise to pursue roles in smaller companies. What are the best ways to research smaller organizations? ~ TD, Colorado
A. This is an excellent and very timely question because one of the focal points of the proposed American Jobs Act is to help small business grow. According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses have generated 64% of net new jobs in the US over the past 15 years. Interestingly, half of the jobs available in the private sector today are with small businesses, so this is huge. Many executives don’t realize the career potential smaller firms can offer in today’s economy.
To do your homework and learn about smaller companies, you will probably have to dig a bit deeper than you would with a large entity. Here are a few suggestions on where to research:
1. Reach out to business associations that are likely to know about the smaller firms in your area. Frequently, small businesses looking to grow are active in local business associations and networking groups.
2. Getting information from the Chamber of Commerce is also a good idea. You shouldn’t limit yourself only to your local chamber. Branch out to neighboring cities and states to broaden your search efforts.
3. Use local newspapers and business journals. They frequently highlight articles about growing firms. Inc. magazine has a Top500 list of small, growing businesses. Younger companies love to generate press as they grow. You can even do a Google search for startups if you think that a new firm would be an option for you.
4. Participating in local LinkedIn Groups may also bolster your small business connections. Many of the metropolitan areas have large online networks of professionals, some of whom represent smaller organizations.
While you may need to wear many hats at a smaller company, the opportunity to learn new skills and diversify your background can be enormous.