Working for a startup means your base pay is not something you can boast about. Rarely does anyone apply for a startup due to great base pay, but many leave due to feeling undervalued, burned out, and underpaid.
Startup or accomplished business, raise is something that isn’t as regular an occurrence in any work environment. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not implying that startups are stingy – they are more than willing to give raises, however, they are more financially tied up than established companies. Most founders do not even take their own salary, putting everything back as company capital. It’s not that founders aren’t open to raising pay, but it probably won’t naturally occur to them in their quest to build the business and avoid increased overhead.
So how do you ask for a raise? Before you break the question take note of these things:
1. Are there enough resources for a raise?
If there aren’t any resources in your company’s bank, you simply can’t ask for what doesn’t exist. Is the company growing? Has it added new team members lately? Have there been major upgrades to office equipment? If not, there may not be room in the budget to give you a raise.
2. Are you celebrated within your company?
Over the last few months check your performance? Are they full of successes or are you just about to get fired? If you relate to the latter, then you have to raise the quality of your work before you even consider asking for a pay raise.
3. Have you trained your replacement?
A salary raise normally comes with an organizational step-up. If you haven’t trained a person to take over your current position, then you are currently leagues away from the promotion – and the salary bump – that you want so bad.
4. Are you prepared?
Before even attempting to ask the question you need to be prepared for two things. You need to get ready for the conversation first. Write down the reasons and practice to say why you deserve a raise. Second, prepare yourself to get fired. Unfortunately, some founders see this as a sign of disloyalty, and even if that was never in your intention if ever the meeting goes downhill, you need to update your CV.
If you can show that your life is in balance, that you’re contributing inside and outside of your job description, and that the job warrants more pay, you’ve got a shot at a raise. Handle the conversation knowing that you’re likely dealing with a person who desires loyalty, and you’ll have a better shot. Approach the whole conversation with honor and respect for the mission of the company and the sacrifices the owner has made, and you may just find that your next paycheck is a little more.