1. If you don’t do it, it won’t happen. So, take pride in and personal responsibility for your work. Your actions as an employee in a small business directly affect that company. You see what happens when you do something right. You also see the results when you do something wrong and how this can hurt the organization. So whatever you do, you have to own it.
2. A suit and tie will not make you more productive. I think of suits as formal wear. So when I have an interview or wedding to attend, I’ll pull out my suit. Personally, I don’t think that a suit and tie will make me perform any better as an employee. Also, trying to fix a printer with a tie in the way can be a hassle, and it’s almost impossible to get toner out of silk.
3. Entrepreneurs work on the weekends. Just because the work week is over and the meetings have stopped, that does not mean there is no work to be done. To see people working hard 60 to 80 hours each week was an eye opener for this aspiring entrepreneur.
4. Coffee is important. I didn’t start drinking coffee regularly until I started to work for a small business. It’s a ritual now at 9:30am and at 2:30, you can see me enjoying the wafting aromas of a freshly brewed k-cup. I’m also in charge of ordering the coffee for the month and that is a very important job duty.
5. Beer is just as important. We have what we call “beer Fridays.” On Fridays around 4:00pm, we will have a beer and discuss the happenings for next week. Instead of trying to scramble and gather all of our plans on a busy Monday morning, we sort them out over a nice craft brew right before the weekend.
6. Don’t burn bridges; you’ll probably need that person/company in the future. In small business, it seems that you have to rely on the local resources around you. This might be for convenience or because you have developed a personal relationship with them. If things go awry with one particular person/company, it’s probably best to resolve the issue. You don’t know when you’ll have to rely on that company again.
7. Undergrad business classes left out a host of information that should have been taught. In college, they didn’t teach me how to run a social media marketing campaign. I didn’t have any exams on how to conduct a meeting, or how to use QuickBooks, but I guess they say experience is the best teacher for a reason. I am learning.
8. You still have an infinite amount to learn. I came to grips with not knowing everything about everything a long time ago. But every week, I meet someone who knows a vast amount more about something than I do. This is okay with me because I’ll never pass up an opportunity to learn something new.
9. You will probably never want to work for a major corporation again. I worked for a major corporation in college, and it was filled with bureaucratic red tape. I’m not saying that all corporations are like this. I prefer the environment in small companies, even though a matched contribution 401K would be nice.
10. Sometimes, you get to work with cats. In a small business pets are welcome for the most part. One the most entertaining things at work (aside from Doug’s one-liners) is when a cat does something wacky. It also helps when times get tough to have a purring ball of fur ease the stress. They’re like living stress balls.
If you have more things a recent graduate might learn while working for a small business let us know by emailing us at: firstname.lastname@example.org