What are the most crucial things I must know prior to taking a new position at a small PR agency?

Not everyone is suitable to work in a small firm and not all small agencies are alike.

Not everyone is suitable to work in a small firm and not all small agencies are alike.

At small companies, staffers tend to interact more with senior management. This offers terrific learning opportunities, professional development, greater responsibility, and high visibility, but it can also be daunting if you're used to being on a larger team and having other staff to lean on for overall performance.

The firm's leadership often sets the daily tone and energy for the office. If you're a kindred spirit and have an affinity for the management team, that can motivate. If you're not comfortable with the GM's leadership style, however, the layers of insulation that exist in a larger firm just won't be there in a smaller one.

It's also key to understand the firm's viability and stability. A firm with 10 employees may be more financially stable than one with 100, if the small firm is profitable, has long-term client relationships, and a full pipeline of new business.

Lastly, know what career-development opportunities exist. Some firms can be rigid, stagnant, and fixated on finding someone to fill a specific job. Others may invest in your professional development, give you additional responsibility or new accounts, provide you with an opportunity to develop new business, and offer a clear career path regardless of the size of the company.

Sandra Fathi is president of Affect Strategies.

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