No Career Development For You! (Says Small Employer to Employee)

Not many of us enter the workforce with a desire to become a private sector small business employee. But in Australia, small business employs about 50% of the private sector. And let’s be real – the job market is an unforgiving mistress – sometimes you just gotta take what you can get.

So how do you escape to organisations with international opportunities and a training budget that will pay for your Masters?

Some statistics about small business in Australia:

2 out of 3 small business operators are male, and 1 in 3 are female. But only a 3rd of female small business operators are working full time (i.e. the business is big enough to support them in a full time role – I imagine very few part time operators employ someone to run their business while they work part time). And 4 out of 5 males work full time in their business.

So when you look at the pool of small businesses, about half of the men in the pool are hiring, and about 1/8 of the women are hiring.

What it’s like to work in small business:
  • The attendance fee of a conference would wipe out a small business training budget.
  • The small team sizes prohibit flexible working arrangements, but encourage an impressive range of skills covering all of the organisation’s functions. 
  • The tight financial arrangements mean little investment in nice things like office decoration, gym memberships or bonuses. 
  • Finally, the employer probably entered the business because they have a skill or good to sell, not because they are a good manager – management is often under trained in running an actual business and uninterested in good people management practices.

What this means for your career:

If you enter small business as an employee – the only way you will exit is if you make your own opportunities. Seek out free training, get a mentor, attend networking events, and read, read, read. Join a LinkedIn group with good discussion. Pay to be in a professional group. Follow blogs, buy books and read industry news.

Your small business employer probably isn’t interested in your career development, so if you are, make it happen. That is the reality of 50% of the workforce, so quit wishing and start working out-of-hours on yourself.

Yes. It sucks.

Do / Have you worked in small business? What have your experiences been with career development? What tips would you give to the small business employee with big career aspirations?

Btw, if you’re wondering how I can be employed in HR, and write about HR – here‘s my explanation.

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  • 6 September 2012