Why Work for a Small Business (or Own One)?

There are reasons why people want to own (and buy) a small business. I’ve gone over the reasons why people want to buy and own a company a few times before and a lot of those reasons are why employees choose a small business instead of a huge company to work for. Let’s start with some names in the news recently.

  • Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement ends after this season. It will be contentious over a few issues. Keep in mind, baseball players have the best deal compared to all sports as all contracts are fully guaranteed (thanks to Marvin Miller, head of the players association from 1966-1982).
  • The NCAA is in the midst of turmoil over NIL (players getting paid for their name, image and likeness) and the disparity of conditions for male versus female players.
  • Amazon just had a union vote, I’m sure there will be more, and they are now pledging to improve workplace conditions in warehouses.
  • Boeing employees in the transportation division and Teamsters Union vote to authorize a strike. All Boeing unions are upset over outsourcing, moving jobs out of the Puget Sound area, and downsizing while stating executives got bonuses while slashing jobs.
  • The teacher’s union dominated the talks of getting kids back to school. I saw a survey saying the vast majority of teachers wanted to return but the union stuck up for the vocal minority.

Contrast that with some of our past and current clients that have people who could easily be called “The Minister of Enthusiasm” for the company. They live, eat, drink, and breathe the company culture. It creates a contagious buzz throughout the firm.

As we see people return to the workplace, look at the contrast between the five bullet points and the preceding paragraph. Not the specific organizations but the theme of us versus them compared to, “We love this place.” Why do people like working for small companies? I think the reasons are pretty much the same as why people want to own one, with one difference, that being they probably won’t have as rich a salary plus benefits package. But the following seven reasons make up for it:

  • Creativity – there’s a lot more opportunity for it in small business as small business is always looking for better ways.
  • Rewards can be earned by good work versus given in mass to all because a contract says to do it that way.
  • Freedom to do things outside the box.
  • Listened to when they have value to contribute (or even when they don’t).
  • Flexibility to go to the dentist during the day, start early so they can leave early to see their child’s game or recital.
  • Advancement of their career is possible without selling their soul.
  • Fun whether it be “Beer Fridays,” retreats, family events, or just the general atmosphere of enjoying oneself while working.

Our business is centered on helping clients exit with style, grace, and more money and helping people buy the right business the right way. I write the above because nothing is more important to a business than its people. One may say profits are the most important item but without the right people there are no profits.

It all comes down to the fact that if you have a great team your company is more valuable and when it’s time to exit the value will be higher. As my past client Bob Gordon said, as he looked a seller in the eye, “You may think I’m buying your business but what I’m really buying is your people.”

There is nothing better an owner can do than have happy and productive employees. You don’t want the employees to say the new owner (buyer) is a “Breath of fresh air.” You want them to say, “Thank goodness nothing changed.”

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