When you’re looking for flexible work, your best bet may be companies that are not household names. Small businesses are often led by individuals who have opted out of the restrictive nature of corporate America. Streamlined and nimble management teams have the leeway to operate as humans, and they are more likely to bend on how and where work is done.
How do you find these small companies? Here are seven ways:
Comb the internet. If you want to work for smaller marketing firms in Ohio, a search for “award-winning marketing firms in Ohio” or “award-winning marketing firms in Columbus, Ohio” and you may find many employers not yet on your radar screen. Other ways to search might include “fastest-growing marketing firms in Ohio,” which will likely include smaller firms; “best Ohio companies for flexible jobs;” or “best companies to work for in Ohio.” Check out individual websites for agencies in your target locations to learn more about their size, the type of work they do, their client lists, the backgrounds of their management team, and more. Most importantly, you might see evidence that flexibility and family-friendly work structures are part of their company cultures.
Rev your networking engine. The best way to find a job is through networking—a game changer if your target is smaller companies with less than 100 employees. Far more full-time jobs are advertised, and it takes some digging to find less traditional roles. Networking also helps you pick and choose among start-up companies that may or may not have the staying power to survive.
Pursue general “word-of-mouth” intelligence. Ask friends, acquaintances, and loose connections if they know professionals who left the large corporate world to launch a small business of their own, or if they know about smaller, rising companies that have top-ranked clients. Many entrepreneurs need flexible help as they grow their businesses.
Often suburban towns, for example, are the homes of executives who semi-retire and need flexible help running smaller ventures.
One great case in point is a tiny firm in a small town run by a household-name, three-time CEO. When I was a recruiter, I placed a woman at his office, and she supports this ex-CEO’s personal investments, real estate holdings, and corporate board activity. It’s a flexible and exceedingly interesting opportunity to learn from a business legend—and through networking you can find these influential small business owners, too.
Target small business owners who trained with leading companies. If you’re interested in fashion, for example, you could zero in on small business owners who worked for one of the big designers. LinkedIn can lead you to former employees of all big-name companies, and some may have small businesses in your area.
Check Chamber of Commerce websites in your target locations. Many entrepreneurs rely on their local business communities to spread the word about their smaller-scale ventures. You can research interesting companies listed on Chamber of Commerce websites.
Join local chapters of major industry organizations. Smaller companies join industry organizations to get greater exposure. When you join, can access the membership directory, which can help you separate the wheat from the chaff. The more professional companies looking to build industry stature are more apt to be involved.
See who belongs to organizations that help entrepreneurs launch businesses. Many fledgling company members cannot afford full-time employees, so they often need people who can work part time or on intermittent projects. In addition to checking out organization job boards, network with officers who know the membership well.
In decades past all the most progressive ideas seemed to come out of big established companies. Not so today: innovation happens at a faster clip at the 29.6 million small businesses in the United States, accounting for almost 48% of private-sector employees. That’s a lot of smart professionals who can think outside of the box freely without a lot of bureaucratic red tape. It will be a long time before most large corporations institutionalize flexibility across global workforces. But with opportunities for flexwork offered by so many smaller employers, there’s no need to wait for the big employer needle to move.