Big Fish, Small Pond?


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In the merchandising world what are the benefits of working as a small fish in a big pond and as a big fish in a small pond? AQUAretail assesses the pros and cons of working in a big corporate versus a small independent, and vice versa.

Exposure: A pro in any business but often gained in a smaller business where you are exposed to more tasks and responsibility quickly. Forget level sign-offs, roll your sleeves up and get stuck in!

Structure: At junior levels, structured development and training can be much more a ‘pro’ than it might be at a senior level. However a certain degree of structure is essential for any business to operate effectively. Probably better found in a big corporate and is one of the main reasons we are recognised for training and developing the best merchandising professionals in the UK.

Progression: Easier done in a smaller business because there isn’t the rigid sign off process and often means you can climb the ranks quicker. However, a smaller infrastructure may limit the level you can get to internally.

Best Practice: A pro in the bigger businesses is the ‘best practice’ they use. The Big Boys all have great training and development, and candidates move away from these types of businesses knowing exactly how reports should look and what they should be doing to ensure it is in place elsewhere.

Levels: Moving externally from a small business to a big business can often mean sacrificing on title. Titles and levels vary in many businesses and often moving as an ‘equivalent’ can have candidates feeling like a fish out of water. When hiring candidates from smaller businesses, big businesses often offer a more junior title so that the candidate matches with their internal levelling correctly. Equally a merchandiser title in a large retailer can often equate to a more senior level in a smaller retailer

Prospects: A career spent in smaller businesses means one thing; you will be a head of merch for a small retailer. It is easier to move from big to small but not the other way around. Mixing your experience up in terms of business size exposes you to different structures/systems/team sizes etc and will mean that you are more ‘employable’ in most businesses.

Small versus big? Both have their pros and cons. One thing we advise for certain is that you should feel comfortable in the business you are in; not everybody likes the unstructured feel of a design led brand or a small start-up and the same can be said for the structure and rigid box ticking of a big corporate.

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