Startup salary too small- Autonomy, stimulating work may compensate for less pay
Q: I’m working at a startup where the owners keep adding to my workload without increasing my salary. I’m starting to feel frustrated and resentful but afraid to talk to the owners because they keep telling us they aren’t drawing salaries. What else can I do but quit?
A: Remember why you joined in the first place. It’s almost a given that you will be paid less at a startup than you are worth. However, for many the chance to wear many hats and the potential for huge financial rewards later when the company gets traction outweighs the lower initial salary.
Other rewards of working at a start up are: greater autonomy and authority, variety and stimulating challenges, flexibility with less bureaucracy, a hands-on business education and a chance to shape the enterprise.
The benefits that will help your future marketability include greater responsibility, more visibility in a broader range of skills and a higher title sooner than is likely in a larger company.
While long hours and pitching in wherever needed are job requirements, an honest conversation with the owners about the impact the increased workload is having on you and the quality of your work could provide them with valuable feedback about the needs of their growing business.
Be calm, tactful and unemotional. Ask if they would be willing to reassign some responsibilities, hire additional support or increase your pay.
There are many creative options beyond salary that could be more economical or advantageous to a company with tight cash flow.
Flex hours, extended delivery deadlines, telecommuting, additional holiday time, dividends, profit sharing, health benefits, fitness membership, car/phone allowance or an assistant. If you continue to feel under valued, you may decide you’re better suited to a more structured workplace and exercise your option to leave.
Reprinted from The Province, February 21, 2016.