Small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) – as we were reminded so often in the last presidential election – have tremendous control over the U.S. economy. Small businesses have a greater ability to create jobs freely and, with the right mix of entrepreneurial spirit, ingenuity and hard work by all involved, grow exponentially in size and revenue.
In fact, more than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and those organizations create roughly two out of every three new U.S.-based jobs each year.
Those are great points to reflect on during this National Small Business Week (May 4 to 8, 2015), an annual recognition of the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and the companies they created. The SMB community is a vital source jobs for IT professionals, giving many not only their first career opportunity, but a chance to advance and expand their horizons over their lifetimes. With an estimated 28.2 million small businesses and just 17,700 firms with 500 or more workers (according to the Small Business Administration), employment prospects are typically stronger in the former group.
The SMB Career Path
For IT professionals, bigger isn’t necessarily better. While many enter technical training and certification programs dreaming of landing their dream jobs upon completion, in reality, most will have to earn their way up from the bottom of the industry. Those with more specialized skills generally attract more recruiting interest, as do IT professionals living in areas of high talent demand, but most start their careers in entry level positions.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. SMBs offers opportunities for those interested in advancing their skills and career options. Many find out that they’re not just a great place for IT pros to begin their chosen vocations, but that these smaller organizations allow them to take on greater responsibilities and expand their skill-set much quicker. With fewer employees and other resources available, the career development track can be shorter for those who perform.
After all, the best way for a tech professional to improve his or her employment value is to acquire the real world skills that most businesses covet. Small businesses typically allow and need their employees to utilize much more of their talents. New IT team members can also have a greater impact on the success of an SMB than they could in a Fortune 500 company. Their understanding of the latest technologies can truly influence the company’s direction. The skills they bring may be beneficial to implementing the systems needed to survive and prosper.
Of course, many IT professionals who work in SMBs also gain valuable experience in efficiency. With fewer resources to work with, they may be asked to recycle, redeploy and revise systems that other businesses would simply replace. Employees with the vision and ability to develop cost-effective solutions are greatly valued and typically well compensated for their efforts.
Skill Demand Drives Value
An SMB can be a training ground for those looking to gain those valued proficiencies; though it becomes a career destination for many. Demand creates opportunity for IT professionals, whether they shop their skills to other businesses over time or choose to remain with the same organization.
SMB companies typically give their employees a greater opportunity to enhance their resumes than larger organizations would. IT professionals often gain a much wider set of experiences in a far shorter period of time, which helps improve their value in the marketplace. The robust demand for skilled technicians, engineers and other computer specialists is expected to continue if not rise for the next several years, which means greater earning potential for those with the right skills.
That’s why the SMB community is so crucial to IT professionals of all ages, experience levels and backgrounds. With CompTIA certifications and a lot of hard work, even an entry-level position in a small business can lead to a lifetime of opportunities.
Brian Sherman is founder of Tech Success Communications, specializing in editorial content and consulting for the IT channel. His previous roles include chief editor at Business Solutions magazine and senior director of industry alliances with Autotask. Contact Brian at Bsherman@techsuccesscommunications.com.