I did some research in this site to find something similar to my "problem" and I found relevant just this.
My current situation is quite similar. I'm working in a small company ( 7 coworkers ) as software engineer since November 2013. I feel very lucky cause, living in Italy, find a job is just like find a needle in a haystack. Yesterday I was updating my Linkedin profile and I found out how my University mates are working for big quoted companies while I'm not. I tried to apply, of course, but I have not ever had an email back, even to tell me I didn't fit he role I applied for. Actually I would have done something wrong, I admit but this is another ( ugly ) italian story..

So, I'm asking: Is it worth to work for such a small company regarding career and salary expectation or should I try to find a better ( higher pay, better support, better teamwork ) in a bigger one?

Right now I'm struggling because I'm the only one who works developing software. As you can imagine, finding a bug is frustrating and fix this by myself could be painful in term of time and clearness of the code. Coding everything on my own, I find really difficoult to quit the pattern I used and refactor everything, so I think the fixes I made are just horrible patchworks which hide worst bugs! :(
Anyway, when I accepted this job, I knew it but I think it could be better find a bigger company with a bigger team to work with and, maybe, an higher salary. On the contrary, if I overcome this moment and the company i'm working with grows in next few months as our boss promised, maybe I could be in a good position to lead a software team as he told me when I was hired - He images to triple the employees as soon as he can, giving me some cool guys to work alongside me.
So, according to your opinion, which is the option you would choose if you put in my shoes?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Joe Strazzere, Elysian Fields, Jim G., Garrison Neely, Michael Grubey Jul 25 '14 at 16:25

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • Does this answer your question? It seems you are asking basically this - What are the risks and benefits of working at a start up over an established Company – Elysian Fields Jul 23 '14 at 22:01
  • I get your point and I can say it fits almost perfectly but - I think - there is a big difference. I'm already working for a small company and I'm wondering if it is worth to change or is better to stay. I don't know if it is the same as the very good question you linked me, but if it is or I did not explain my problem well as intended I will actually improve (delete if really duplicate ) if needed! Btw, many thanks, appreciate a lot! – Emi987 Jul 23 '14 at 22:20
  • There's no certain solution, I'm from Italy and I'm working in a huge IT company (as big as Microsoft). My salary is way better than the Italian counterpart but the work-life balance isn't great. Plus living abroad brings a series of problems and responsibilities you would have never imagined before. If you're ready to say goodbye to your old friends, family, habits, do sacrifices and move abroad, go ahead. I'm currently not aware of any company this big based in Italy so you will likely have to move. As a sidenote: bigger teams, bigger company, etc.. doesn't imply happiness with your job. – Marco A. Jul 24 '14 at 10:09
  • @MarcoA. Bigger team and such don't imply happiness, I agree, but a better environment could help a lot! Sometimes you find a problem in your code and nobody can help you and you have to waste time over time trying fixing while, having some meeting with your team mates, could help you find the right way easily! – Emi987 Jul 25 '14 at 17:23
  • @Emi987 Regarding tools and such I might agree, but don't think that anybody is willing to help you out in such an environment: the more competitive it gets, the more you're on your own. – Marco A. Jul 25 '14 at 17:38

I would take a slightly different approach to answer your question. Are you more comfortable in a large, bureaucratic organization that has defined policies for everything, and where you have a narrow role? Or are you more comfortable in a small organization that may not have as many written rules, and where you may be able to do many different things?

If you don't like at least some regimentation, you're not comfortable at all with playing politics, or you have a very strong sense of ownership of your work, a small company may be a better fit for you. On the other hand, if you want to be more specialized, work within a larger framework, and/or you enjoy the political aspects of building your career, you may enjoy a larger company. Either way, you're likely to be happier - and thus more successful - at an organization that is a good fit for the way that you want to work.

Don't worry quite so much about money at the start of your career. If you're in a good work environment and have the right opportunities for growth - ones that match your skills and interests, and that allow you to advance in an organization that you like - the money will come, and maybe sooner than you think. On the other hand, if you're in an organization that you can't stand, it's very difficult to advance (and taking on more responsibility in an environment that you dislike may not be attractive anyway).

  • 1
    The advice about money is spot on. In your 20s worry about growing professionally, in your 30s worry about the money (the kids will be coming along), in your 40s look forward to 50, when you're going to retire because you've save 10% of everything you've ever made. – System 360 Jul 24 '14 at 3:35
  • I had an internship for a big company, just 6 month, and I can say what I'm missing more now is teamwork and, maybe, a better work schedule. Working all alone is boring ( my opinion ). Anyway, I always taught working in a bigger company can put me in a better spotlight in the future to get better jobs and improve my career faster sacrificing part of my independence. Btw, thanks a lot for your point of view, very well explained! :) – Emi987 Jul 24 '14 at 7:24

I'm not exactly sure what you're asking. I'm going to give you the two perspectives of working at a small company and working at a rather large company.

Here's some context though. Over the past 10 years of working in the Web Development industry, i've been developing code for very small companies, startup and now a rather several large billion dollar company. The following are some of my observations:


Small Company

Characteristics of working at Smaller Companies / Startups

  • Flexibility to do what it takes to get the job done
  • Lack of clearly defined roles
  • Creativity and experimentation is expected
  • Inability to provide training

Positives of working for a small company or startup

  • Fewer levels of management
  • Immediate ability to implement change
  • Potential for higher productivity with fewer managers
  • Project has larger impact

Negatives of working for a small company or startup

  • Lack of benefits
  • Lower pay
  • Job security / stability can be an issue
  • Lack of mentorship
  • In positions of leadership, taking time off is almost impossible
  • Lack of resources
  • Fewer chances for promotion

Large Company

Characteristics of working at Larger Companies

  • Many layers of management
  • Highly specialized roles
  • Tendency for more meetings
  • Change is top down

Positives of working at a Larger Company

  • Many more benefits: Health, Retirement, Paid time off
  • Job stability
  • Tools and training are readily available
  • Increased Collaboration

Negatives of working at a Larger Company

  • Inability to change direction or ways
  • Tendency toward lower productivity or outcomes
  • Too many processes inhibit progress
  • 1
    Is there a reason why you put positives first for the large company and negatives first for the startup? – limdaepl Jul 24 '14 at 5:23
  • Good point, actually. Time to think which choice is the better for me, hard one but I have to take sooner or later! :) – Emi987 Jul 24 '14 at 7:14
  • 1
    @limdaepl Probably because they are "matching" each other? I.e. positives for large is similar to negatives for small and vice versa – leemes Jul 24 '14 at 12:33
  • Yup what leemes said. – chrisjlee Jul 25 '14 at 2:49

No company will stay small forever.

A small company will become a big company or merged into a big company if its business is successful. A small company will disappear from the earth if it fails.

You seem to have a not so good workplace. I would try to improve it if I were you. If you work for a big company, it's hard to change the environment. But, it's a small one, it should not be too hard to change. If, for some reasons you are not able to change it, then you can safely assume this company will fail sooner or later. I would change job in this case.

If the company improves and keep improving itself, you know its business will expand and eventually it will become a big one. Then you don't need to find a big company to work for because you already work for a big one.

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    I think you're wrong, I know tons of companies that are keeping it small. Family businesses, small design studios etc... – Michal Jul 24 '14 at 15:11
  • I would agree. There are companies that i know that have been burned from overselling and overgrowing and would prefer to be a one person shop or small business. – chrisjlee Jul 25 '14 at 2:50
  • Appreciate your point of view. But I have to admit, where I'm working I won't have more than 20 collegues if I'm lucky and everything goes well. I would never call that a "big one"! :) – Emi987 Jul 25 '14 at 17:13

Give your boss the months he promised things would get better and bigger. In a big company you are just another developer, in this company you have the chance of becoming a senior developer, or a CIO, who knows. There are lots of opportunities in the right small companies.

If after the months are gone by and nothing changed, then you should definitely consider your options.

  • 1
    Yes, I agree. I will try to see if there are some opportunities outside and do my math. After that and after that time has passed, I will have my decision. Thanks for your effort! – Emi987 Jul 25 '14 at 17:14

I think you are looking at this in the wrong way. Big company or little company doesn't really matter until you start getting more towards the management side of things, and they start looking at how many people they have reporting to you.

Instead, what is your eventual employment goal? Are you happy in a 7 person group, or do you want to be working in a large multinational? Where do you want to be in 1, 5 or 10 years?

Pick out your "dream" job, and find some job descriptions for places that are hiring for it. Go down the list of requirements (And realize that often these are more laundry lists than actual requirements, but the basics are there) and see how many you already have, and then how many you would need to acquire. If your current company offers you the opportunity to get these skills, stay. If they don't offer that opportunity, it may be time to find a company that does.

You want to keep a stable job history, but you also want to work places that offer you chances to learn what you need to know to land that dream job in the corner office.

  • I think the problem is I love to work with other people and share objectives. I worked for a big company an year ago, and I used to work strictly with other people and I loved how our effort was high. If we ( team) had a problem, the team I was in started to find a solution, if one of us had a problem, everyone was on point to help him. If we praised for our job, everyone could rejoice with the mates. It's impossible to achieve this working alone, although I had more chances for my career! Hard choice! ;) – Emi987 Jul 25 '14 at 17:18

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