Negotiating Salary from a Startup Job Offer

Everybody knows that a startup is one risky business. Most startups aren’t able to give your expected salary. You’re putting yourself on a more significant risk, if your compensation is dependent upon how well the startup is doing.

For employees, salary is pretty much their motivation on doing their best at work. However, compensation at a startup is quite different than a corporate or established company. Thus, you should take a different approach when negotiating salary.

Here are a few tips on negotiating salary at a startup:

1. Pay attention on the equity options

The startup job offer makes you consider about equity options. Then, you should dig into it. Make sure you can find out how your options compare to the total shares available. You can determine if your equity offer is fair by knowing the amount of investors, the number of rounds, and the growth potential.

Remember, equity can become diluted as more investments are made and more employees join. If the company loses value, your options may be worthless. If the stock rises, you make money. The vesting schedule is also important. If you leave the job, or the startup goes bankrupt, you may get nothing.

However, stock options are interesting since it could beef up your incentives package. Your choice, but make sure it’s your best choice.

2. Choose what matter the most

Indeed, startups offer intangibles, such as flexibility and casual culture. It might be important for some people. That’s why they are still happily working at a startup without pocketing plenty of cash.

In fact, many startups are cash-poor. They can’t really give you as much as you want. However, you need an income. Never come easy when you’re about to work at a startup which can’t pay you at all, unless you’re considered as a founder and don’t need an income for several months.

If you think this startup has the potential to reach success and is willing to sacrifice some salaries, negotiate your equity.

Some startup perks might make you want to take salary for granted. But remember, it might affect your commitment to the startup in the future. Because deep inside, you feel that you don’t get what you deserve. Make sure you have at least acceptable and reasonable salary at the startup you’re working for.

3. Ask other money-related information

Working at startup means you should consider pushing for a more generous base salary and bonus structure. Yes, your starting/basic salary might not be that satisfying, but there must be some other things you can get, such as tuition reimbursement. Ask, or even demand, about it. The worst they can do is saying “no” as the answer. Take a risk!

With those tips in mind, are you ready to feel more committed while working at a startup?


Next read: How to Land a Job at The Rising Startup

Article contributed by Startup Jobs Asia‘s Team.

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