How to thrive in San Diego’s mid-sized company market (2023)

San Diego is a city filled with diverse career opportunities. Whether you’re seeking work on the cutting edge of biotechnology or the pride of hand-crafted or artisanal skilled labor, San Diego has organizations of every shape and size within a wide spectrum of industries. In addition to conventional small and large business models, San Diego County has a unique multitude of mid-sized companies, each with their own compelling visions and unique corporate hierarchies.

If you’re looking to earn your degree in business or find promising new opportunities, here are six things to consider about San Diego’s exceptional market of mid-sized companies.

What is a mid-sized business?

Mid-sized businesses occupy a gray area among small and large businesses to describe. While there isn’t an established legal definition of mid-sized businesses, these usually hold between 100 and 1,500 employees. They fall below the size of major corporations that may be considered “large-sized” businesses but have the personnel and stability to distinguish themselves from organizations with fewer than 100 people.

This is because the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (USSBA) definition of small businesses varies so widely based on employment, industry, and revenue. In some industries, businesses can earn over $40 million while still being considered small businesses and can sometimes consist of more than 1,500 employees. Mid-sized businesses represent the sturdy, small, and successful organizations that fall between tiny startups and big corporations.

What are the benefits of working in a mid-sized business?

Frank Marshall, Ph.D., associate dean of PLNU’s Fermanian School of Business, explained that mid-sized companies give employees more of an influence in a company’s direction. Marshall gave an example of one PLNU alum who worked for a mid-sized business and was able to meet with the owner, ask questions about the company, and present a plan for growth.

“This student met with the owner and offered his suggestions on where he could see growth,” Marshall said. “The owner agreed and that alum got a raise.”

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Jamie McIlwaine, Ph.D., vice dean of the Fermanian School of Business, observed that mid-sized companies present an opportunity to be in a company with a more flexible structure. Many of these companies emphasize employee recognition and satisfaction, valuing everyone’s contributions regardless of seniority.

Many mid-sized companies present an opportunity to work within a more flexible structure. Many of these companies also emphasize employee recognition and satisfaction, valuing everyone’s contributions regardless of seniority.

McIlwaine has also often seen mid-sized companies placing a larger priority on sustainability, ethical production, and giving back to the community. Organic and fair-trade materials are frequent standards of production in mid-sized businesses that could distinguish them from their large-scale competitors.

One example McIlwaine gave was Taylor Guitars, the El Cajon-based guitar manufacturer and tentpole of American-created instruments. Since creating the company in 1974, co-founders Bob Taylor and Kurt Listug have emphasized ethical business practices while maintaining a prestigious quality. After seeing how much striated ebony wood was wasted in Cameroon due to the typical “perfect” standards of guitar manufacturing, Taylor created the Ebony Project in 2011 to minimize waste, promote re-planting, and reimagine what the perfect ebony wood — and the perfect guitar —looks like.

In 2021, Taylor Guitars’ co-founders transferred complete ownership of the company to their 1,200 employees, allowing them to control the future of the company. Despite having gained international acclaim, Taylor Guitars has continually emphasized quality and sustainability over financial or personnel growth. PLNU often partners with Taylor Guitars to help MBA students experience the manufacturing process and workplace environment through private tours of their facilities.

How is San Diego Unique?

According to a 2018 report from the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC), small businesses make up 98% of all firms in San Diego and employ 59% of the workforce. A majority of these businesses employ fewer than five people, but employees working in mid-sized companies make up 33% of working San Diegans.

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Marshall explained the lack of large businesses and a foundational biotechnology economic sector create a stable economic atmosphere in San Diego that invites smaller firms to set up shop. These businesses have opportunities to grow, fulfill needs, and find their identity.

“What attracts other companies is this biotech economic cluster, which is how San Diego started,” Marshall explained. “There are a lot of people here with small businesses that exploit niches and create value.”

McIlwaine believes San Diego’s culture of tight-knit communities is reflected in workplaces just as much as its diverse social circles. This can create familial, purpose-driven businesses where employees feel that their work makes a positive impact.

“I think San Diego maintains this ‘small town’ feeling of community while being a very large city,” she said. “I think the same can be said with these businesses.”

How to thrive in San Diego’s mid-sized company market (1)

“I think San Diego maintains this ‘small town’ feeling of community while being a very large city. I think the same can be said with these businesses.” –Jamie McIlwaine, Ph.D.

What are the best industries to work for in San Diego?

The San Diego Union-Tribune presents a yearly report of the best companies to work for in San Diego County, dividing the list into large, small, and mid-sized business groups. The survey included questions about company values, innovation, employee work/life balance, pay and benefits, and more.

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The list of best mid-sized businesses to work for featured industries like financial services, technology, home healthcare/disability care services, consumer goods, and consulting. The top workplaces were the Corinthian Title Company, Click-Up, and Dr. Bronner’s body care products.

Similarly, the best small business workplaces list included industries like engineering, technology, marketing, finance, hotels and hospitality, home improvement services, and real estate. This list featured The Guild Hotel, Harris & Associates civil engineering, Kidder Matthews real estate, and more.

There are plenty of opportunities available in these well-reviewed workplace sectors as well. Research from San Diego’s EDC ranked San Diego third in the U.S. for jobs in biotechnology and ninth in the U.S. for jobs in technology. In their 2020 census, San Diego County’s Department of Finance listed professional and business services as the top employment type, with educational and health services ranked fourth and leisure and hospitality ranking fifth.

How can I find the right mid-sized company in San Diego?

Frank Marshall discussed how sometimes getting any job with the right company might be better than finding the perfect position or pay. That could look like accepting a job with less seniority or holding off on settling for the first job offered to you.

“I advise students to go get a job in a business, learn about the company and culture, and work your way up,” Marshall said. “Find a company that’s innovative, that’s found a good groove — one you can see yourself meshing with.”

Choosing a job that can last years — or decades — can be an intimidating prospect. It’s important to find out as much as possible about a business before accepting a job offer.

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“As you’re going out and interviewing with a company, interview them as well,” Marshall recommended. “Your job is to find a company that you can fit in with. You want a company that has similar core values you feel has the energy you’re looking for.”

Since the mid-sized market is so driven by personal connections, networking is very important. Attending job fairs, taking company tours, or community events like the annual San Diego Small Business Expo can help you build connections and find potential collaborators.

“Every time you meet somebody is an opportunity to sell yourself,” Marshall said. “And it’s an opportunity to ask if they’re the type of person you want to work for.”

How to thrive in San Diego’s mid-sized company market (2)

Should I choose a business degree?

Earning a degree in business can open up invaluable opportunities to find new jobs, change careers, or qualify for advancement. PLNU offers a variety of business administration programs that prepare you to become an exceptional, innovative professional — especially within a tightly-knit mid-sized business. In addition to crucial concepts like marketing management, leadership communication, and applied research methods, PLNU offers forward-thinking courses such as corporate responsibility, leading with purpose, and managing in a changing environment. You’ll learn the basics of success in today’s market while receiving industry-sensitive training to create a fulfilling, purpose-driven career.

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Both the BBA and MBA programs at PLNU are designed with busy adults in mind, so you can choose the format that best fits your schedule. The BBA bachelor’s degree program is offered as a hybrid online/in-person format with evening courses at Cuyamaca College, MiraCosta College, and Southwestern College. There’s also a 100% online option with six start dates year-round.

PLNU also offers an MBA program at its Mission Valley Regional Center campus. This program is offered in Daytime and Evening formats at competitively priced tuition rates. This program is built around mastering your knowledge of successful businesses while expanding your career opportunities — in fact, 75% of MBA graduates advance in employment upon graduation.

Find your perfect business degree program today.

  • Click here for more information about the BBA program
  • Click here for more information about the Daytime MBA program
  • Click here for more information about the Evening MBA program

Click here to apply now


How do I grow my small business into a large business? ›

How to Transform Your Small Business Into a Big Business
  1. Recapture Existing Customers.
  2. Ask for Referrals.
  3. Contain Your Costs.
  4. Extend Your Market Reach.
  5. Participate in Trade Shows.
  6. Conquer a Niche Market.
  7. Diversify Your Products or Services.
  8. Develop Franchising Opportunities.
Oct 5, 2020

Which is San Diego's largest hiring organization? ›

The biggest employer in San Diego is, of course, the military. The United States Navy is the largest entity that hires the most people in the area. It provides the most salaries than any other private company in the city or county. No private business employs more people than the Navy.

Why is San Diego a good place to start a business? ›

Low Cost for California Living

Compared to Palo Alto or San Francisco, the cost of living and San Diego business taxes are lower in this area. There is an active investment community ready to boost San Diego small business startups and help you get started.

What are the 4 growth strategies? ›

The four growth strategies

These are Product, Placement, Promotion and Price. Where the Four Ps focus on audiences, channels & pricing, the Ansoff Matrix is more effective for a broader view of markets and uses the older Four P framework within each of the 4 Ansoff quadrants.

What 3 things make a business successful? ›

You've given some thought to the three things that make a business successful, or at least what many people agree those three things are: filling an important need or want among customers, operating efficiently and making a profit.

What is San Diego's main industry? ›

The largest sectors of the San Diego's economy are defense/military, tourism, international trade, and research/manufacturing, respectively.

What is a high salary in San Diego? ›

A good salary in San Diego, CA is anything over $52,000. That's because the median income in San Diego is $52,000, which means if you earn more than that you're earning more than 50% of the people living in San Diego. The average salary in San Diego is $61,517. A good hourly wage in San Diego is $25.0 per hour.

What is a good salary San Diego? ›

To put things in perspective, the median salary in San Diego is $63,739. This is a good salary to aim for if you're thinking of moving to San Diego.

How can I bring more value to a company? ›

Here are eight ways you can add value to your company's products or services:
  1. Be a customer. ...
  2. Submit high-quality work. ...
  3. Make a unique product. ...
  4. Encourage faster production. ...
  5. Adjust your marketing strategy. ...
  6. Ask the right questions. ...
  7. Become an expert. ...
  8. Focus on what you can do.
Mar 1, 2021

What makes a company successful? ›

A mission with great core values that employees can believe in is another way. The most successful companies recognize the good talent they have, and work to keep it. That means more than a competitive salary and a few benefits. Employees need to fit in with the company culture and feel valued for their contributions.

What drives the San Diego economy? ›

Key Industries. With breakthrough technology companies and research organizations, the largest military concentration in the world and a strong tourism industry, the San Diego region has one of the most dynamic economies in the country.

Why is San Diego so desirable? ›

Not only is America's Finest City one of the best places to live on the West Coast and one of the best places for veterans to retire, but it also has great employment opportunities, a plethora of beautiful beaches, top-notch cuisine, affordable neighborhoods, and much more!

Does San Diego have a good job market? ›

ZipRecruiter estimates that there are 85,562 jobs available. This means that there are many opportunities just waiting for the right applicant. With an average salary of $78,000, there is a lot of room for negotiation for jobs in San Diego CA. The top 3 highest-paying roles should come as no surprise.

What is a good growth strategy? ›

Examples of growth strategy goals include increasing market share and revenue, acquiring assets, and improving the organization's products or services.

What is the easiest growth strategy? ›

Market Penetration

The most common strategy, and one of the easiest to comprehend in terms of growth, market penetration's goal is getting your product/service to sell more to customers already in your market.

Which growth strategy is best? ›

Market penetration

The aim of this strategy is to increase sales of existing products or services on existing markets, and thus to increase your market share.

What are the 13 tips for successful business? ›

13 Ways to Improve the Success of Your Small Business
  • Create brand personality. ...
  • Develop a strategic business plan, organizational structure, and operational support systems. ...
  • Avoid common mistakes. ...
  • Become connected to the community. ...
  • Put your employees first. ...
  • Don't just acquire customers, retain them. ...
  • Get organized.
Dec 2, 2019

What are the 9 tips for growing a successful business? ›

  • Get Organized. To achieve business success you need to be organized. ...
  • Keep Detailed Records. All successful businesses keep detailed records. ...
  • Analyze Your Competition. Competition breeds the best results. ...
  • Understand the Risks and Rewards. ...
  • Be Creative. ...
  • Stay Focused. ...
  • Prepare to Make Sacrifices. ...
  • Provide Great Service.

What are the 6 key success factors business? ›

What Is The Top 6 Basic Key Success Factors?
  • Money.
  • Management.
  • Marketing and Sales.
  • People.
  • Product and Service.
  • Process and Systems.

What is the most popular job in San Diego? ›

Detailed List Of The Most Common Jobs In San Diego, CA
RankJob TitleCount
3Customer Service Representative6,084
4Sales Associate6,045
87 more rows
May 24, 2022

What is the biggest company in San Diego? ›

12 of the largest employers in San Diego
  • Scripps Health.
  • Qualcomm.
  • Sharp Healthcare.
  • Kaiser Permanente.
  • Sanyo.
  • Sony.
  • San Diego Community College District.
  • County of San Diego.
Apr 2, 2022

Which of the following are two major industries in San Diego County? ›

The top four industries in San Diego County are manufacturing, defense, tourism, and agriculture.

What is middle class income in San Diego? ›

Income & Poverty
Median household income (in 2021 dollars), 2017-2021$89,457
Per capita income in past 12 months (in 2021 dollars), 2017-2021$46,460
Persons in poverty, percent 11.6%
57 more rows

Which part of San Diego is best to live? ›

San Diego is much more than its pristine beaches, amazing all-year-round weather, and its famous Zoo.
  1. Ocean Beach & Point Loma.
  2. South Park & Golden Hill. ...
  3. Kensington & Normal Heights. ...
  4. Pacific Beach & Mission Bay. ...
  5. La Jolla. ...
  6. North Park & University Heights. ...
  7. Hillcrest. ...
Jul 28, 2022

Is San Diego growing or Shrinking? ›

According to the California Department of Finance, San Diego's net population loss was only 0.4% of its 3.28 million residents. In comparison, LA country saw a . 7% decline and San Francisco saw a .

Where is the most affordable place to live in San Diego? ›

The Most Affordable Neighborhoods in San Diego:

Balboa Park. East San Diego/El Cajon. Chula Vista/Imperial Beach. North I-15 Corridor West.

What is low income in San Diego? ›

San Diego County Income Limits Effective April 18, 2022
FAMILY SIZE80% of AMI Low Income50% of AMI Very Low Income
5 more rows

What's a comfortable salary in California? ›

What is a good monthly income in California? A good monthly income in California is $3,886, based on what the Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that Californians pay for their cost of living.

What are the 3 ways to value a company? ›

When valuing a company as a going concern, there are three main valuation techniques used by industry practitioners: (1) DCF analysis, (2) comparable company analysis, and (3) precedent transactions.

What is the simplest way to value a company? ›

Market capitalization is the simplest method of business valuation. It is calculated by multiplying the company's share price by its total number of shares outstanding.

What are the 5 ways to value a company? ›

5 Common Business Valuation Methods
  1. Asset Valuation. Your company's assets include tangible and intangible items. ...
  2. Historical Earnings Valuation. ...
  3. Relative Valuation. ...
  4. Future Maintainable Earnings Valuation. ...
  5. Discount Cash Flow Valuation.

What are 5 things you need to be successful? ›

5 Keys to Success
  • Build high self-esteem Believe in yourself, have confidence, like and feel good about yourself, take pride in what you do.
  • Focus with a positive attitude Always expect the best possible outcome for what you do. ...
  • Set powerful goals Give your brain a place to aim. ...
  • Persevere Never quit.

What are 4 key elements of a successful company? ›

Here is how the 4 elements of a successful business should look like:
  • Product. A product should be simple, concise and honest. ...
  • Market. To be successful, a business needs to know their market and cater towards it. ...
  • Money. Money is always an issue when starting any new business. ...
  • People.
Sep 3, 2022

What are 5 areas that can help a business grow? ›

10 Proven Ways to Grow Your Small Business
  • Know your customers. Knowing who your customers are and what they need is vital. ...
  • Focus on customer service. ...
  • Extend value from current customers. ...
  • Leverage social media. ...
  • Grow your team. ...
  • Showcase your expertise. ...
  • Support your community. ...
  • Network.

What is the main reason a small business fails? ›

The most common reasons small businesses fail include a lack of capital or funding, retaining an inadequate management team, a faulty infrastructure or business model, and unsuccessful marketing initiatives.

What are the 3 important focus areas to achieve profitable growth? ›

Five Ways to Achieve Profitable Growth
  • 1) Introduce new products or services to the market. ...
  • 2) Expand an existing market. ...
  • 3) Increase share in a growing market. ...
  • 4) Compete for share in a stable market. ...
  • 5) Acquisitions.
Nov 12, 2019

What are some problems in San Diego? ›

The 99 Problems With San Diego
  • The weather can get a little Groundhog Day. ...
  • Parking within a mile of the beach in the Summer = impossible.
  • So many dogs, so few owners who seem to pick up after them.
  • All other cities are ruined for you after living here.
  • Rising juice cleanse costs.
  • Punctuality is not exactly a priority.
Jun 18, 2014

What is the main source of economy in California? ›

Services, labour, and taxation. Services are the dominant economic sector in California. Tourism is a consistent source of income. More than one-fourth of the state's land area is preserved as recreational areas, national seashores, or wildlife refuges.

Why are rents increasing in San Diego? ›

The report cites a number of factors, such as recession worries and rising interest rates forcing potential buyers out of home purchases, as reasons for the tight rental market. Nationally, median one-bedroom rent reached a new high of $1,503, Zumper said, with two-bedroom rent at $1,845, also an all-time high.

What are 4 highlights about San Diego? ›

San Diego is renowned for its idyllic climate, 70 miles of pristine beaches and a dazzling array of world-class family attractions. Popular attractions include the world-famous San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park, SeaWorld San Diego and LEGOLAND California.

What do people love about San Diego? ›

Ocean Beach is the hippy beach, Pacific Beach is home to the college crowd, Mission Beach is for the active ones, and La Jolla offers some spectacular cliffs as a backdrop. San Diego is the perfect place for a Beach vacation. There are a ton of beautiful beach resorts in San Diego – for every budget.

Is San Diego market slowing? ›

Mortgage rates are rising compared to last year. In August 2022, the 30-Year Fixed-Rate was 5.22% while in August 2021, it was 2.84%. The supply is still low and with all of these factors considered, at this time, it is unlikely that the San Diego housing market will see any major price decline in 2022 or 2023.

What is a comfortable income to live in San Diego? ›

San Diegans need to make over $166K salary to afford a house in San Diego County. According to Visual Capitalist, San Diego is the third most expensive city when it comes to purchasing a home.

Is San Diego a good place for business? ›

The City implements good government practices toward businesses while creating specific economic development programs. The City also maintains a healthy and safe environment and an up-to-date, well-maintained infrastructure that makes San Diego business-friendly and a great place to live.

How can I turn my small business into a million dollar business? ›

How to Make $1 Million in Your Small Business
  1. Be an Industry Thought Leader. ...
  2. Make Passive Income Streams. ...
  3. "Up Sell" Your Customers. ...
  4. Over-Deliver Whenever Possible. ...
  5. Conduct a Competitive Analysis. ...
  6. Stay Focused and Positive. ...
  7. Sell Globally. ...
  8. One Million Is Intimidating.

How can I make my small business more profitable? ›

6 Ways to Increase Profits For Your Small Business
  1. Change Operating Procedures.
  2. Stay Visible and Connected.
  3. Maximize Your Cash Flow.
  4. Streamline Management Costs.
  5. Raise the Marketing Bar.
  6. Make Everyone a Salesperson.
Oct 28, 2019

What are 3 ways that I can get the money to start or expand a business? ›

  • Determine how much funding you'll need.
  • Fund your business yourself with self-funding.
  • Get venture capital from investors.
  • Use crowdfunding to fund your business.
  • Get a small business loan.
  • Use Lender Match to find lenders who offer SBA-guaranteed loans.
  • SBA investment programs.

What industry will make you rich? ›

Nearly half of the 400 richest Americans made their fortunes in finance or investments. That includes hedge fund managers, investment bankers, and private equity investors. If you're wondering what industry makes the most millionaires other than finance, your second-best option is the tech industry.

How much is a business worth with $1 million in sales? ›

Using this basic formula, a company doing $1 million a year, making around $200,000 EBITDA, is worth between $600,000 and $1 million. Some people make it even more basic, and moderate profits earn a value of one times revenue: A business doing $1 million is worth $1 million.

What business can make you rich? ›

  • Financial Services.
  • Eldercare.
  • Business Consultancy.
  • Investment Firm.
  • Education and Training Service.
  • Insurtech.
  • Cleaning Business.
  • Healthcare Consultancy.
May 11, 2022

What is the biggest key to success for a small business? ›

To succeed in business today, you need to be flexible and have good planning and organizational skills. Many people start a business thinking that they'll turn on their computers or open their doors and start making money, only to find that making money in a business is much more difficult than they thought.

What are the five ways to increase profits? ›

5 ways to increase profit in your business
  • Increase your prices. ...
  • Increase the number of customers. ...
  • Increase the amount that customers purchase. ...
  • Increase the efficiency of product/service creation.

What small business turns the most profit? ›

8 most profitable small business ideas
  • Fitness or physical therapy services. The pandemic seems to have permanently changed the fitness landscape. ...
  • App development. ...
  • Online consulting services. ...
  • Dropshipping. ...
  • Home improvement services. ...
  • Information security. ...
  • Event planning and virtual event planning. ...
  • Commercial cleaning services.

What are the four main ways a company can become more profitable? ›

Four ways to increase business profitability

There are four key areas that can help drive profitability. These are reducing costs, increasing turnover, increasing productivity, and increasing efficiency. You can also expand into new market sectors, or develop new products or services.

What is the fastest way for growth of a business? ›

Although growing your small business will take time and energy, there are 10 strategies you can use to help accelerate business growth.
  • Do Your Research. ...
  • Build a Sales Funnel. ...
  • Increase Customer Retention. ...
  • Participate in Networking Events. ...
  • Practice Corporate Social Responsibility. ...
  • Form Strategic Partnerships.

What are the 5 ways a business can add value? ›

Added value is the difference between what a business spends to produce its goods or services, and the price that customers are prepared to pay. There are five sources of added value for a small business: convenience, branding, quality, design and unique selling point.

What is the easiest way to bring uniqueness to your business? ›

If you want your company to stand out, define what makes your products and services different. A unique selling proposition (USP) is a well-thought-out statement that helps a company distinguish itself from other businesses in its category.

How do you rejuvenate a struggling business? ›

10 things you should do to save a failing business
  1. Change your mindset. ...
  2. Perform a SWOT analysis. ...
  3. Understand your target market and ideal client. ...
  4. Set SMART objectives and create a plan. ...
  5. Reduce costs and prioritize what you pay. ...
  6. Manage your cash flow. ...
  7. Talk to creditors, don't ignore them. ...
  8. Organize your business.


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