Why work for a small to medium enterprise (SME)?

Carrie Liddell 2022

Carrie Liddell
Marketing Coordinator, Assurity Consulting
19th July 2022

When first embarking on their professional career, many people might not think about the size of the organisation they would like to work for. Details like whether an employer is a micro-enterprise, small enterprise, or a larger enterprise should surely be irrelevant to their professional development, and future opportunities within a company - right?

Well, when looking for a new role – the number of employees in a business could help you to predict what kind of workplace, and even career path you can expect from any one organisation. And the more you know, the better equipped you will be to look for an employer that suits you. But what are the differences?

In the UK, the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) specifies that:

  • A micro-enterprise is 9 or fewer employees;
  • A small enterprise is 10-49 employees;
  • A medium enterprise is 50-249 employees; and
  • A large enterprise is anywhere upward of 250 employees.

But which size of business should you work for? The answer to this question may come down to what it is you would like from your career and workplace.

If you are looking to be 'a small fish in a big pond' - a large enterprise might be your first choice, with these enterprises making up 48% of all turnover in the UK in 2021. A large enterprise may also be a household name you already like or know. However, if you are really looking to make a difference in your workplace, making your voice heard in an organisation with over 250 employees can be difficult. Your work may be isolated from other departments, and potentially have little opportunity to meet or work alongside other employees at different levels within the organisation.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, a micro-enterprise might offer what you are looking for. You would likely to be regularly interacting with all your co-workers and even support multiple departments, making your ideas easily heard. However, there may not be the same level of career benefits a larger business may be able to offer you - such as private health insurance, or a training budget for your professional development.

If you’re looking for the best of both worlds, you may want to consider working for a small to medium enterprise, or SME! 

SMEs are made up of 10-249 employees, meaning they have likely seen successful growth as a business. However, unlike large enterprises, they have the ability to maintain the level of community that can be found in smaller enterprises. With a less hierarchical system and focus on working together, employees in an SME may find it easier to get to know other employees from different departments and levels, from trainees through to company directors. Working with a wider pool of people can be a fantastic way to find new opportunities, and contribute your own perspective.

SMEs often place great value on their people - achievements do not go unnoticed, and employees can be easily be recognised for the strengths they bring to the business. Investment may be made towards the professional development of an SME's employees, such as training opportunities and career progression. This can make an SME a fantastic workplace for university graduates or apprentices, who may benefit from a career that develops their skills.

There are many benefits to working for a successful SME. From employee parties and community fundraising days, to a clear career progression, stability, employee benefit schemes, private health care and often you are surrounded by a number of people who are able to support you in both your career and care about your personal wellbeing.

If you would like to find out more about our company culture and opportunities you can find working for an SME such as Assurity Consulting, visit our careers benefits page here, or have a look at our careers case studies here.