Take a look at my CV and the marketing departments of two mammoth enterprises will leap out at you, first Vodafone and then Microsoft, where I have spent a combined 11 years of my working life. For the last five months, in stark contrast, I’ve been working here at Gloo, a small B2B marketing agency that is growing around 20% year-on-year simply through word-of-mouth client recommendations.

As with joining any new company, you expect a period of adjustment. But going from one extreme to the other on the business scale, there are some standout differences.

Life without bureaucracy

I’m no longer a part of a multinational machinethere is no IT helpdesk, HR department, large budgets at my disposal or dedicated centres of excellence who can execute my marketing plans for me. My job spec is fluid, and so are my day-to-day tasks. Marketing in a small business might mean helping recruit copywriters so we have the capacity to take on new clients, instead of rolling out global media campaigns.

Fast-paced change

Also, things change quickly in a small business. ‘Agile’ is a trendy buzzword in corporate environments right now, but in a small business it’s a reality. There are fewer processes and layers of approval hierarchy; if you have an idea you can get it approved quickly, and be expected to execute it almost immediately. But equally if it’s not approved, you need to move on fast to the next thing and not dwell on the past. Large corporates spend a lot of time trying to think like the agile startups they once were, but the very structures and processes that build up as a business grows make it tricky to do so.

Team collaboration

Similarly with social technology, small businesses are by their very nature more social, as the whole company typically sits together in one room. While we at Gloo are big on using tools like Lync for IM and Inc for sharing interesting stories around the team, like most small businesses we don’t need enterprise social technology platforms to encourage employees to connect and collaborate: you can see everyone you work with sitting around you.

Shared commitment to the customer

However, there is common ground. No matter what your size of business, the customer (or client) is king, and people are passionate about keeping their customers happy. For any business, the more authentic you are about what you do and the services you offer, the more customers will buy in to your story. Customer satisfaction and loyalty for a specialist agency won’t come as a result of global brand advertising campaigns, but from providing a more personalised, fast turnaround, local service.

Happy customers ultimately translate into healthy revenue and a profitable business, and everyone wants to work for one of those, no matter how big or small they are.

Posted by John on 18 December 2014