I work at a start-up company. How do I benchmark myself effectively and avoid the "you work at a small" company" compensation run around?
I am currently working with a start-up, so my base pay looks pretty low as you ride on the potential.
I take two strategies for talking with firms.
First, there are several market data points I can get from colleagues, Robert Half, etc. for the role of interest. Having the market information, when the question comes up - I start with this information to establish a reasonable pay range for the position and that I've done my homework.
Second, I reference back to the compensation package from my last role in a non-start up firm.
What also tips the balance is the equity position that I have in the start-up firm, as it's generally not possible in a running firm.
The most important piece is using the outside data - it makes the conversation based upon public information.
Hope this helps.
Very hard to answer without more context such as your role, geography, size of company, trajectory, plans, etc.
Some common themes to consider:
You will trade off salary for equity - the goal is that the equity will more than make up for lower cash comp
Look at the company two to four years out and get a salary commensurate with that size - the company needs to hire for where it is going.
Understand the potential for further dilution when considering how much equity to get.
Understand the capitalization of the company
Hope that helps.