It’s been a year now since I took the plunge. No, I’m not talking about getting married. It’s about something even more complicated. The plunge from a defined path of a typical Management Trainee in a global giant to a smaller company hustling to make it big. From ‘Big’ to ‘Small’. The thought of this transition was thought through well (read as overthought). The first year was filled with surprises and shocks in suitable proportions so as to maximise exposure and realisation of what I was going to gain vs what I lost on.

Below are my 6 key takeaways on ‘Big’ vs ‘Small’ –

big v small
  • Leveraging Technology

The ‘Big’ take pride in taking about how robust their systems are. True! They’ve truly built a secure system to serve well at their scale. But this scale takes away the liberty to make incremental changes to keep up with the times. In most cases they’ve to depend upon a complete overhaul once their systems are almost obsolete. Of course, along with a forced (due to scale and a Big Bang) change management project.

The ‘Small’, on the other hand, teaches you how to use easily available and affordable technology to move to create innovative solutions and move at a rapid pace. This comes at a slight compromise with data security but not everything requires a Z grade security, right? To put it in Raghuram Rajan’s words, multiple sustained mini bangs are preferred over a Big Bang!

  • Exposure

‘Big’ offers to scale. Exposure to a wider value chain may take years to gain.

‘Small’ gives you an exposure to a broader spectrum that helps you connect the dots faster (only if you’re smart enough as the scale is low).

Depth solely depends upon the individual as both offer an equal opportunity!

  • Failure

If you’re in the right place, failing fast would be promoted. Try -> Fail -> Try better -> Succeed! ‘Small’ offers this cycle in a much better way with better resources.

‘Big’ doesn’t deploy resources on bets until odds are completely in their favour. There’s nothing wrong in this as the quantum of resources of massive.

The Experience gained by failing fast gives you an accelerated learning as an individual.

  • Vision

True leadership doesn’t come without 2 key components: Coaching and Vision.

Since daily operations are mostly stable and fire-fighting is limited, ‘Big’ gives you time and scale to have a vision.

‘Small’ moves at a pace that it takes a conscious effort to even have a vision. The decisions, policies and winning each battle to establish territory offers little room to look beyond.

  • Peer Learning

The diversity of people, profiles and functions in ‘Big’ is unparalleled. This fosters an environment that enables massive peer learning. There’s always a room in which you are the most stupid person. This almost transforms ‘Big’ into a true university that offers theory and practice aplenty.

Lack of such rich diversity is one of the limitations of ‘Small’. After a point, you are not “not the smartest person in the room” as the numbers of such rooms are limited. Small may act as great testing waters for those who’ve graduated from the ‘Big’ university.

  • Loyalty and Skill

Before I talk about this, a disclaimer is much needed: Politics Exists, everywhere!

But for the larger part, there’s not much scope of loyalty to a person in ‘Big’. The organisation is so multidimensional that it leaves little for loyalty. Skill, on the other hand traverses all these dimensions and progresses (at pre described pace/ or switches).

In ‘Small’, loyalty becomes a crucial factor as uncertainty associated with the business environment requires stable stakeholders. Skill is rewarded duly but a high loyalty is appreciated to mitigate the susceptibility to a switch!


In this battle between ‘Big’ & ‘Small’, as in life, there are no “Rights” or “Wrongs”!

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