Entrepreneurs share about taking their first salary
CEO of Active IT Solutions
The first time I took salary in my company is when I incorporated Active IT Solutions back in 2010.
Having a structured pay schedule was the most difficult concept to adjust to.
When I was a sole proprietor, I would pay myself whenever I wanted/needed, so the shift to being paid on salary required a shift in mindset and habit.
All in all, it felt like I finally owned a real company and had a sense of accomplishment in the sense that I graduated from being a kid that fixed computers, to the owner of a company that did outsourced IT.
Active IT Solutions
Founder of K9 of Mine
Finally taking your first a salary from your company feels like a huge sigh of relief.
For so long with a new business, you’re not really sure if it’s all going to pan out.
You have a dream and a plan, but any number of things could go wrong.
You are putting in your blood, sweat, tears, and time into creating something without getting much at all in return.
It can feel a bit like screaming into the void when you’re first getting a new business off the ground!
When you finally do see some success and can safely take a salary, it finally begins to feel like all that work is paying off.
You can sleep a bit more soundly knowing that your business isn’t in a black box and you’re finally moving on an upward trend!
K9 of Mine
Founder and CEO of HR Forecast
I strongly believe it is much more fun and fulfilling for an entrepreneur to see your own ‘child’ grow, rather than enjoying any short-term benefits of a successful start-up.
It still makes me very proud that industrializing the ideas I had in my head actually enabled me to make a living.
It makes me even prouder that today, my team of about 40, can make a living by doing this.
As an entirely bootstrapped company, we have to be super careful about our investments – up until this day, we invest all our revenues back into our company – foremost towards the 40 talented brains that are working on our endeavour.
Founder of Her.CEO
The first time I took a salary from my company was in 2018, and it felt amazing because I knew doing so was allowing me to save a lot in taxes.
My accountant recommended the whole process of putting myself on payroll so I could take some advantage of the S-Corp pass through taxation.
President of Advanced Telecom Services
When we started Advanced Telecom Services, it required a significant investment in telecom equipment so we were not able to take a salary for over two years.
I was away from my family on Monday through Thursday most weeks.
I slept on the floor in the office and took showers in the morning at the YMCA.
With that kind of commitment, it’s easy to see how finally getting a salary one day was a joyous time.
The gamble had finally paid off.
The good news is that it has continued for 29 years since, but I’ll never forget those first two.
Advanced Telecom Services
Founder & CEO of Simple & Sentimental
I took my first salary from Simple & Sentimental almost 2 years after starting the business in my dorm room.
I was still a college student at the time.
My parents had been helping me with college bills, when suddenly my mother decided to stop paying the rent for my apartment.
I had almost no warning and rent was due soon, so I started taking a salary from the company to pay bills.
It’s a big step to take your first paycheck, and sometimes it takes a circumstance like that to force you to do it.
Simple & Sentimental
Co-Founder & CEO of Rightdevice
Starting Rightdevice, my cofounder and I bootstrapped the company for several years trying to find product market fit.
Once we found a viable product we went to VC and were able to raise $2M to help fund our vision.
When negotiating the term sheet the outbreak of COVID-19 hit the US and our investors backed out, only committing $250K.
My cofounder and I knew all the money needed to go to hiring engineers we needed to build the tech.
In a matter of 5 months we were able to build our V1 product and gain our first customer who paid $300K for the product license.
In a couple months we went from barely surviving, to having every investor back to giving us capital.
We went without salaries for 3+ years till we secured revenue and the full $2M raise.
Still to this day, my cofounder and I are one of the lowest paid employees we have.
Founder & CEO of Volley
When I started my first company, the first major milestone that I cared about was when could I pay myself.
I left my mid six-figure corporate job to start Maestro and I knew that it would be a while until I was able to pay myself that much.
But, could I pay myself anything? Ever?
Could I even get customers to pay for our services?
These were sincere questions.
Within a couple of months, I was able to start paying myself $36k/year which over time I bumped to $80k then $100k, but never got back to where I was in the corporate world with my salary.
However, I have sold multiple companies now and benefitted greatly for the risk/reward of trading salary for equity in the early days.
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About the Community
On the podcast, Sean talks with entrepreneurs about the reality of their struggle to succeed, as well as answering questions from the community, and sharing nuggets of wisdom from his own life.
Discover through these amazing episodes the courage to open your mind, heart, and soul to the world so you can be the best entrepreneur possible, respect the people you work with, and improve the world with your company while not hurting others or yourself in the process.
Sean is an entrepreneur, investor, and advisor based in SE Asia for over 12 years. He is passionate about Psychology and helping others improve themselves.