Ending Soon! Save 33% on All Access

Why Software Developers Are Flocking to Smaller Businesses Over Big Tech Why there's been a growing trend of software developers joining smaller businesses and startups instead of big tech companies — and what SMBs can do to continue attracting and retaining top developer talent.

By Yancey Spruill Edited by Chelsea Brown

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Over the past few years, there has been a growing recognition of the vital role that small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and startups play in driving both innovation and economic growth. In the midst of the pandemic downturn, many new businesses were started, and the majority of them are online or digital in nature. So, as more and more businesses shifted to or started their operations online, the demand for skilled developers has only increased, making software developers ever more critical to the success of SMBs and startups around the world.

Despite the shortage of talent in the industry, there has been a growing trend toward software developers joining SMBs and startups rather than the big tech logos that have traditionally been the most coveted. According to recent reports, the global demand for developers is outstripping supply, with the technology sector being particularly hard-hit. More and more companies are looking to build out their digital infrastructure and stay competitive in an increasingly online world, resulting in fierce competition among companies to attract top talent.

Related: Being a Small Business Can Be a Big Recruiting Advantage

Ditching the logos

While logo recognition may appeal to some, more and more software developers are choosing to join SMBs and startups over behemoths. One of the main drivers is the chance for developers to work on a wider range of projects and with a wider range of technologies, providing a more diverse and engaging experience than the narrow focus they may be tasked with at big tech companies. As small businesses increasingly invest in their digital infrastructure and operations, they have created a wealth of opportunities for developers looking to work with cutting-edge technologies and be a part of an exciting world of innovation and emerging applications and solutions.

Smaller businesses and startups also tend to offer greater flexibility and work-life balance, with many companies embracing remote work and flexible schedules to draw and retain talent. This flexibility can be a significant factor in attracting developers who prioritize a healthy work-life balance and greater autonomy in their work. Last year, DigitalOcean research showed that finding remote work was a top consideration for leaving existing jobs or taking new ones among developers.

Another key factor driving the trend towards SMBs is the chance for individual developers to have a greater impact on the business. In a smaller, leaner organization, developers often have a more direct line of communication with key stakeholders, allowing them to understand the business context of their work and make a tangible impact on the success and future of the business.

Related: Recruiting on a Budget? Here Are 7 Ways You Can Beat the Big Companies to Top Talent

The future needs of and for developers

Looking to the future, the demand for software developers in SMBs and startups is expected to increase. In DigitalOcean's latest Currents report, which analyzes trends among digital small businesses, 51% of businesses who say they plan on hiring in the next year say they will be hiring for software development roles.

To stay competitive in attracting and retaining top talent, SMBs must take proactive steps. This includes offering competitive salaries and comprehensive benefits packages to attract skilled developers. Additionally, embracing flexible work arrangements and fostering an engaging and rewarding work environment can make a significant difference.

But it's not just perks and benefits that SMBs should be paying attention to. Developers want to be on the cutting edge of technology as well. Therefore, smaller digital businesses should also pay close attention to broader changes on the horizon that are likely going to impact them in the future.

For example, the rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning is set to revolutionize many industries, creating new opportunities for innovative businesses and developers alike. Small businesses should be aware of these opportunities, as well as potential threats they may cause, so as not to be caught off guard in the future.

And on top of future tech, SMBs should be paying attention to their everyday infrastructure. Developers particularly crave simplicity, documentation and ease — that's why SMBs should pay close attention to their cloud and tech providers early on in the process to ensure an easy, scalable process in the future.

In this rapidly changing and difficult economic landscape, it is clear that software developers will continue to play a critical role in the success of digital SMBs and startups. But by embracing new technologies and creating engaging and rewarding work environments, SMBs can and are already competitively positioning themselves to draw the talent they need to scale and grow.

Related: 4 Strategies for Businesses to Attract and Retain Software Developers

Yancey Spruill

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

CEO of DigitalOcean

As CEO, Yancey Spruill drives the overall strategy for DigitalOcean, leading the company through its next phase of profitable growth. He brings a wealth of technical, financial and leadership experience and spent the last 15 years in senior executive roles at other tech companies.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Business News

TikTok Reportedly Laid Off a 'Large Percentage' of Employees as the App's Fate in the U.S. Remains Unclear

Laid-off TikTok employees were notified Wednesday night through Thursday morning.

Business News

Four Seasons Orlando Responds to Viral TikTok: 'There's Something Here For All Ages'

The video has amassed over 45.4 million views on TikTok.

Business News

More People Are Exploring Entrepreneurship Because of This Unexpected Reason

More new business applications were filed in 2023 than in any other year so far.

Personal Finance

This Investment Bundle Includes a Trading Course and Stock Screener Tool for $150

Approach the stock market with an increased understanding.

Growing a Business

5 Strategies to Know As You Scale Your Business

Scaling a service-based company requires a comprehensive approach that goes beyond simply increasing revenue. It requires careful planning, strategic decision-making and a deep understanding of market dynamics.