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Big Co. vs. Little Co.
Why join one vs. the other...
There has been a ton of career changes over the past 24-months. Some companies have thrived during the pandemic and others, we’ll let’s just say, didn’t.
I’ve worked with 1,000+ sales professionals in my career and I’m always honored when they ask for my advice or for me to be a reference for them. What surprises me is when I hear something like “I’ve got two career opportunities, one at an early stage company and one at Salesforce. What do you think?”
That is kind of like asking, “I’m looking to buy a house. One is 4,000 square feet on 10-acres of land and the other is a 900 sq. ft. apartment in the middle of the city. What do you think?”
An opportunity at a huge company like Salesforce is going to be so radically different from an opportunity at an early, or even mid-stage company, that it is weird to me to even think about it as two different opportunities. One is definitely not going to be a good fit for you.
Larger companies are great for some people. On the upside, you have name recognition. Aside from Yahoo, my parents have never heard of a company that I’ve worked for.
You have product market fit. No one is out questioning whether or not there is a market for CRM.
You have better training. If you’re young in your career, this can be invaluable. You’ll really learn how to sell because these big companies (think IBM, Oracle, Salesforce, etc.) have a proven sales methodology that works in most places. They know how to train new sellers and they will put you through the paces.
You have more collateral. I don’t just mean white papers. You have Dreamforce, in the case of SFDC, you have more events, more customer testimonials, more videos. Hell, a friend of mine at Salesforce as someone that builds his presentations for him. Talk about luxury.
A big company is less risky.
There are downsides too. In a company with 100,000 people that does $20B in revenue, it is easy to feel like a number. Your $1.5MM number that you work your ass off to hit, doesn’t make a huge difference in the grand scheme of things.
That it is less risky means that the upside for you is more limited to W2 income. Your ownership stake is almost non-existent. Also, big companies cut BU’s all the time. If you’re tied to one that gets cut, you could be out of luck.
Most stuff is pretty well baked at a big company. If you’re looking to put your stamp on something, these projects are harder to find in huge companies.
Big companies can be massively bureaucratic. Keep in mind the old saying ‘bureaucracy is just policy that you don’t like’, but at bigger companies it is a lot harder to get shit done.
Smaller companies are flipped almost 180-degrees from a larger company. At a small company, think less than 100-employees, the world is your oyster.
It is easy to get things done because there is no one else to do things. That falls on your shoulders. Need a deck, better know PowerPoint or Beautiful. Need a customer testimonial, hope you had a great relationship with that client.
Because not much has been done at a company of this size, you get to put your stamp on it. You’re the person that did ‘X’. For better or worse, that’s you.
9 out of 10-businesses fail in the first 5-years. Joining a 3-year old start-up? Sounds fun, but understand that no matter how good you are, the odds that it will tank are pretty good. In exchange for that risk, you get some equity. Quite a bit more than if you were to join a monster company. That equity will likely be worthless, but we all love the lottery ticket.
It is also risky that you pick a few duds in a row, and you’re marked. No hiring manager would ever admit it, but it’s true. If I see a track record of dud companies, even though I know that it isn’t your fault, I wonder how one could pick so poorly.
Working at a start-up is a bit like going on a road trip with no map. You have a basic idea of where you want to go, but you’re going to go down a lot of roads that lead nowhere. This can be extremely fun or extremely terrifying at the same time.
I know people that have worked at both large and small companies. There is rarely any complaining. Things generally go well, but it has to fit your personality. If you’re a big company person and try a 75-person start-up, you’re going to be in for some surprises. Similarly, going from a 75-person start-up to a 50,000 person organization, you’ll be in for some surprises there too.
How did you pick the company you joined?
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