Renumeration for Startup Founders

By Fernando Berrocal

Founder compensation is the amount of salary a founder receives for creating and operating a business. It's important to understand how to determine founder compensation, since there are several avenues for doing so; compensation can be delivered through salary, profit-sharing, restricted stock units (RSUs), and stock options.  Read on to find out which method will be right for your startup.

Founder Renumeration

A 50-hour workweek and years of little (or no) revenue are part of entrepreneurship. Therefore, the eventual compensation of founders is a big topic. When your startup demands resources, is it prudent to accept some of those resources as payment? Some people believe business founders shouldn't get paid until the enterprise is profitable; rewards for founders may be harmful. Another angle concerns the Chief Executive Officer (CEO).  This individual has the right to a wage, not the founders–if the founder serves in any position, then they will get paid. This implies that, even if they provided financial support, their claim to a wage is invalid; in this view, founders should receive dividends instead of a salary. This will encourage accountability on the part of founders, and prevent them from leaving.  Many startups take years to become profitable, so accept a job. Consider the salary you would like to get, since this is crucial to making a living. There are many factors to consider for entrepreneurs, so this is not a simple decision.  By focusing primarily on fundamental needs, the decision becomes more simple.

Consider Cash Flow

How much money comes out depends on the cash coming. Your pay will depend on cash flow. You should take the source of the investment when calculating your payment. Whether it comes from your account, wallet, or income earned, here is where the cash comes from.  Since making money can be a challenge, self-employed startup owners lack the resources to pay salaries.

If founders are on the payroll and received funding, they may be able to begin receiving compensation. It's improbable that it will be equivalent to industry averages. Every dollar you earn might be put toward expanding your business.  Discuss the payment with board members. Remember: It's necessary to ask for things in moderation. It might be challenging to work - and can make you unsatisfied - if you end up receiving a low wage. With a large payment comes difficulty in working and increased dissatisfaction–both can reduce productivity.

Your income will also be impacted by the amount raised. It is recommended that entrepreneurs start modestly and then boost their payment as their business expands. You could think about raising your salary or giving incentives as your business expands. It is essential to link your compensation to growth milestones, and then work accordingly–since you'll be motivated by the benefits. Profitable startups are uncommon, and employees who are founders must receive the same compensation as regular workers.

Factor In Your Startup’s Stage

Are you developing your Minimum Viable Product (MVP)? Do you have a business? Or do you have greater credibility? Consider the present state before settling on your wage. Owners of established businesses might earn more money than the founders of growth-stage startups, even though they generate good revenue. It is typical for entrepreneurs to start with lower pay and then boost it after achieving specified goals (or after funding rounds). It's critical to evaluate the state of your business now before settling on your wage.

Venture Capital

Additionally, it is possible to determine reasonable founder remuneration by using "industry standards." Examine the compensation of the founders of your rivals. You may calculate your opportunity cost using this. This is the wage you forfeited to launch your business. You might not get paid as much as your firm is more established. Make careful to examine your firm's long-term financial accounts before deciding how much to spend. Entrepreneurs don't typically earn large sums of money. Even if it appears that revenue and founder remuneration are unrelated, that’s false. Even if there is a significant positive association between the two, additional factors exist.

Account for the Current State of Finances

CEOs and founders sometimes earn modest incomes. This is due to the fact that they have several sources of income. Your pay will initially depend on your ability to raise money, as well as your present income and expenses. It is typical for founders who have additional sources to get paid less. It's crucial to do a fair appraisal before speaking with investors. It's crucial to include taxes and business loans, record every source of income and cost, and cut back on needless spending.  You shouldn't anticipate living the high life as the founder of a developing business. 

Even if the firm expands, there won't be a significant spike in income. Your objective should be capital gains. You can accomplish them if you put time and effort into the business. In retrospect, only founders who are employed get paid. Non-working earns dividends and equity. When figuring up your wage, it's critical to consider how much time you put in, and know how many hours you work weekly.

Remuneration for Business Founders

Consider How Much Current Employees Are Paid

The founder’s salary sets the bar. If you raised money and want to expand, offer equity rather than a wage increase. Making sure workers are compensated when the business generates profits is a way to inspire them. They learn that, although they are working for a business, they are receiving compensation comparable to the industry average. As a result, you should cut your base payment. If you recruit experienced workers, you may be required to pay more. Remember: a better worker is essential to growing a business.

Factor in the Current Tax Rate

Your income will determine how much tax you will pay. The tax regulations must be taken into account. Your organization's profits are seen as personal income by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). No matter if a business is a sole proprietorship, partnership, or joint venture. You do not have to earn a meager wage, but you will benefit from dividends since they are less taxed. Rumors might start when a balance sheet shows too much profit. Founders ought to be paid well, even if they have enough money to cover their expenses.

In summary, following the subsequent factors in a formula for founder compensation will provide you with a conclusion regarding what you should do:
  • Analyze your startup's financial status.
  • Make a budget by accounting for all of your sources of income and outgoings.
  • Determine the money needed monthly to make ends meet.
  • If you hit a positive result, you will receive a bonus or increase.
  • If you are the founder or CEO, your compensation should be balanced between a salary, performance-based bonuses, and equity (add taxes and the basic pay).

Ready to bring your startup to the next level? Apply to MassLight’s next batch. MassLight supplies capital and a dedicated tech team. We take equity in return. Have questions? Refer to our FAQ page.

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