[Click on charts to enlarge]

Small and mid-sized companies are the engines of economic growth – they generate two-thirds of new jobs.  They also drive innovation, accounting for thirteen times as many patents per employee than large companies.

Yet policies and eco-structures benefit large corporations.  Large corporations get generous loans at low interest rates, favorable tax treatment, easy hiring, lower prices from vendors, more eager job applicants, and beneficial financial markets.  Small companies, in particular — most of them young — find it almost impossible to get funding, employees, or government help. The Venture Capital system is quite inefficient and navigating the seas of government grants is intimidating for a small company.  Half of all successful start-ups in Silicon Valley were founded by people who were born outside the US, but we make it difficult for entrepreneurs and the qualified employees they need to enter the US to work.

Small business gets more patents than large companies.  A study by the SBA found that in green technologies alone, small companies had sixteen times more patents per employee than large companies.  So small companies outperform large companies in innovation and growth.  Yet, marketers are less involved in small business than in large business.

Marketers too often assume that the most sophisticated marketing occurs only in large companies.  Yet in smaller companies, where efforts are directly linked to achievement and budgets are tight, a marketer can have much more impact — or be exposed as having none!  The fact is, of course, that this is an area where marketers can not only get a lot of self-satisfaction but also make money.

Given the short duration of many marketing positions, any marketer can be fairly confident that their careers are not completely under their control.  Equally, many have the self-knowledge to recognize that they are not going to start a company nor be self-employed consultants.  Joining a small company may be a good solution as long as they have had earlier experience working in lean environments.

Unfortunately, many people do not know how to find small companies.  The best way is very much through networking.  Most parts of the country have an eco-system that is geared to small companies.  The most innovative ones may cluster, at least virtually, around Universities, Incubators, state government grant offices, and such. There may well be local “meet-up” events.  I have seen these in every city where I have lived.

Marketers need to remember, though, that these companies are even more focused than large companies on what you can do for them. A hiring mistake may mean the hiring manager not eating!  Helping a small growing company is a challenging path, but safer than starting a company.  I have seen a large number of people become extremely wealthy through starting in small companies. This is not centered on any one industry.  Friends have become wealthy in businesses as diverse as food or high-tech.