Tips on How to Ask for a Pay Raise When Working for a Startup

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Working for a startup means your starting salary isn’t anything to brag about since you can’t casually ask for a ‘pay raise’. Few people join a company for a high income, but many leave because they feel unappreciated, overworked, and underpaid.

Raising funds, whether for a new or established firm, is not a common event in any workplace. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not arguing that startups are stingy; they are more than happy to provide increases; nonetheless, they are more financially constrained than established businesses. Most entrepreneurs do not even accept their own pay, instead reinvesting it all in the firm. It’s not that founders aren’t willing to raise wages, but it’s unlikely that it will occur to them in their effort to expand the firm while avoiding higher costs.

So, how do you go about asking for a raise? Take heed of the following before answering the question:

1. Are there enough resources for a raise?

You can’t ask for something that doesn’t exist if there aren’t any resources in your company’s bank. Is the firm expanding? Has it recently added additional team members? Has the office equipment been significantly upgraded? Otherwise, there may not be enough money in the budget to grant you a raise.

2. Are you celebrated within your company?

Have you checked your performance over the previous several months? Are they full of accomplishments, or are you about to be fired? If you identify with the latter, you should improve your job quality before requesting a wage boost.

3. Have you trained your replacement?

A wage increase is usually accompanied by organizational advancement. If you haven’t groomed someone to take over your existing role, you’re a long way from the promotion – and pay increase – you crave.

4. Are you prepared?

Before even attempting to ask for a pay raise, you should be prepared for two things. First and foremost, you must prepare for the talk. Write down and practice explaining why you deserve a raise. Second, you must be ready to be dismissed. Unfortunately, some founders see this as a sign of disloyalty, and even if this was never your objective, you should update your résumé in case the meeting goes south.


You have a better chance of getting a raise if you can demonstrate that your life is in balance, that you are contributing both inside and outside of your work description, and that the position is worth more money. Handle the dialogue knowing that you’re dealing with someone who wants to be loyal, and you’ll have a greater chance. Approach the entire dialogue with dignity and respect for the company’s objective and the owner’s sacrifices, and you could just discover that your next paycheck is a bit more.


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