You go to work every day. You punch in. You punch out. You carefully label your lunch and don't meddle with other people's office supplies. You're a good worker. You look in the rear view mirror before walking in to greet your colleagues and tell yourself hopefully, "Maybe today is the day I'll get a raise."
Sorry. Ain't gonna happen. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever--not like that.
Raises don't just happen. They don't just fall out of the sky. They're not rainbows. They're not unicorns.
Raises do not come to those who wait.
But why not? I deserve a raise, don't I?
I dunno, DO you? A business owner has a lot on the line and quite frankly, often doesn't know if *she* is going to get a cut from month to month. You were hired because a business owner needed help; and hiring you was probably long overdue, but once you were hired, the business owner realized, "Shoot. How am I gonna afford to feed all these people AND train these people AND pick up the slack when they tap the snooze icon too many times? Can I raise my rates? Can we find a more innovative way to do business? Maybe I can just stop sleeping for a few months."
Rainbows and unicorns don't just fall out of the sky for business owners either.
Every business owner dreams of the day when a new hire knocks assertively at her door, enters, sits down and says the following:
Boss Ma'am, I would like to present a plan I've been thinking about. I noticed that Teddy, Bill and Sally are awesome at organizing and generating content. I also noticed there is some down time when we're not on the phones from about 10am-11am each day. I was wondering if we could take over the social media work that Big Mega Co. has been handling for you during that time each day. I hope you don't mind, but I went ahead and looked at your contract with Big Mega and according to Section 14 we can pop right out of that contract at the end of this month. It looks like you're paying Big Mega about $800/month. Would you be willing to give me a raise of half that amount to handle the management and responsibility of this task?
Sold. Done. Immediate raise. Promotion. Partner in the company by the end of the year.
But I'll take over the social media for my company. Do I get a raise now?
No. Getting a raise isn't about taking on more tasks; it's about taking on more thinking. A small business owner's brain looks like Willy Wonka's chocolate factory--on steroids. If you can handle just one chocolate slide, that frees her brain up to make more blueberry bubble chutes.
I like chocolate slides. Do I get a raise now?
Are you handling the responsibility to the extent that the owner would? More? Better? Beyond? Then, yes! A small business owner is in a place of being able to hire others because she has exceeded her customer's expectations and her company has grown. Her products and services are in demand. But considering we're not ready to clone business owners (yet), she has the unruly task of hiring/contracting, training and praying to God that her new team will love her clients just a fraction as much as she does.
How did my boss exceed expectations?
She did what the client *would have asked for*, if the client knew such a thing existed.
How can I exceed my boss' expectations?
The same way. Stop looking at your work as a job, and start looking at your work as a service. You are in the business of helping your boss, boosting her profits, and reducing her costs, and above all--easing the Willy Wonka chaos. Thinking in this way immediately increases your value. If you're there to HELP your boss now you can offer to do tasks beyond your job description. You can even offer to help with things that are fun for you, but clearly a chore for your boss.
But my boss makes a lot of money; shouldn't I get a fair cut?
The reason a boss will love you forever if you waltz into her office with a money-saving or profit-boosting proposal is because you're paying attention. You probably know exactly how much money you cost the company and how much money you make the company. Just because the boss is invoicing lots and lots of dollars doesn't mean she's taking any of it home. Companies rarely make tons of money over night; there are debts to be paid, investors, mistakes, blood pressure medication, and it all adds up. Instead of looking at your paycheck with a "gimme gimme" mentality, go get the facts. Find out if your boss has been coming out of pocket to keep you on the team, and more importantly--if your ideas can boost the bottom line!
But what if my ideas offend the boss?
Then it's time to start your own business. You have the confidence and the know-how to be an entrepreneur! Give your two week's notice and get to it!
Ok, ok, I'm not quite ready for that--but can I work for you?
You tell me! How can you help me? What's your pitch? What's your proposal? You've visited my website, you've seen my rates. How can you add value to what I'm already doing and tame the explosion of berrylicious goodness in my brain? Can't wait to hear it! :)
Angela Refsland, owner of Waking Girl Web Design worked for a small business over a decade ago, and asked for not just one raise, but two! After just three months, she noticed an ongoing problem and found a solution. She presented the solution, offered to implement the solution for more pay, and it was an immediate YES from the boss. Know what happened? Her colleagues resented her for it, because they had been waiting for 6 years for rainbows and unicorns. The work environment became too hostile so she asked to be switched from an employee to an independent contractor (no more taxes being taken from her checks), and have the freedom to work from home. The company agreed! And from there--it was an easy step to venture out on her own.