Big companies often have big perks. That's especially true in the technology space, where free meals, gyms, and even day care are quite common. Even more traditional large companies that don't offer those kinds of benefits still have things that smaller businesses don't -- there are more opportunities for advancement, more training opportunities, and maybe even the option of transferring to another location.
Small business owners can't offer most, or sometimes any, of those things. That does not mean, however, that you should not at least consider taking a job at a smaller company. Sure, there won't be a free cafeteria or a massage station, but there might be other benefits that more than make up for that.
1. You want to learn lots of jobs
Big companies tend to have rigid structures. Someone in marketing may never even meet someone in sales, let alone have the opportunity to help on a pitch or go on a call.
At a small company, you will likely get exposure to lots of things and meet a wider swath of the company (if not everyone). That could lead to learning new skills you may never have even known you wanted to learn.
2. You have access to the boss
At a large company, your exposure to the CEO may be limited to town hall meetings and mass emails. If you work some place smaller, you may not only meet the boss, you might get a chance to work with them. At the very least you'll be closer to the top decision maker, and that should give you insight as to why things happen in a way you'll never get at a larger company.
3. You want to run a small company
There's nothing better than hands-on experience. If you hope to start a small business of your own some day, it makes a lot of sense to work for one. Doing that lets you see many of the problems that you may never encounter at a larger company.
4. You want flexibility
A huge company often has a hard time treating people like individuals. A smaller company might be more open to compromise in order to land the right employee.
Maybe you need scheduling flexibility for child care or eldercare reasons. Perhaps you're also going to school, or maybe you want the ability to work from home sometimes. If you're a well-qualified candidate, a small business owner or manager may be willing to negotiate.
Have an open mind
Working for a small company may jump-start your career by exposing you to areas of business you otherwise never would have seen. It can be a learning experience where you have a chance to get your hands dirty in ways you may never experience at a larger company.
Small business jobs can, of course, be terrible too. It's much more likely that a bad boss will make everyone miserable at a small company compared to a large one. Of course, those are things you can research and sound out during the interview process. Ask the people working there if they're happy. If they are, they'll generally go out of their way to sell you on the company. If they're not, they may not directly say so, but they probably won't work too hard to recruit you.
A job at a small business can be a huge opportunity. You may have to make your own coffee and schedule your own travel, but you may also get experiences you would never have someplace bigger.