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How To Not Get Crushed In Your First Salary Negotiation

How To Not Get Crushed In Your First Salary Negotiation

It’s an unfortunate part of life, but becoming an adult also means taking financial responsibility for yourself. So we go out, find a job, and start paying the bills.

Or at least that’s the plan.

A 2015 CareerBuilder survey found that 19 percent of employees had trouble making ends meet every month. And among employed young adults, ages 18-24, 32 percent were unable to save any money in the previous year.

It takes time to figure out a budget and learn how to live within your means, but many young adults don’t even try for more money during their first salary negotiation. A 2015 NerdWallet survey found that 62 percent of recent college graduates didn’t attempt to negotiate after receiving their first job offer.

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It’d be great if employers just automatically offered you enough money to live comfortably, however that’s not always the case. It’s up to you to calculate what you need to maintain financial independence and then try to reach an agreement that’s as close to that number as possible.

Here are four real-life considerations you need to take into account in a salary negotiation:

Relocation and housing expenses

If your new job is in the same city you currently live in, you already know how much your rent is and what the cost of living is like in your area. However, if you’re moving for the job, it’s important to do research about the new city as early as possible. That way, you’ll know how much you’ll need to make in order to maintain a comfortable lifestyle.

For instance, based on 2015 research from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, if you plan to live in Kentucky, you’ll need to make the equivalent of $13.14 an hour to pay for the average two bedroom apartment. That’s the state with lowest average rental cost in the U.S. If you move to California you’ll need to make almost double that to pay rent.

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Checking out apartments in the area you’re moving to on Craigslist gives you an even better idea of what rent typically runs and what target salary you should shoot for. Also, know that many organizations offer some kind of relocation assistance. But you might have to ask for the extra money during your salary negotiation.

Travel costs

Depending on how far you have to travel to get to the office, your travel expenses can begin to add up. Whether you decide to take public transportation or drive to work, you need to know how much it’s going to cost to go and earn your paycheck every day.

For example, if you have a 10-mile commute each way — which 2015 Brookings Institute research found was the average in many American metro areas — that’s 100 miles a week, to and from work. Not to mention, there’s the cost of car insurance. And if you have to drive on toll roads, getting to work can get expensive very quickly.

Student loans

For many new graduates, the burden of paying back student loans is overwhelming. A 2015 study by Student Loan Hero found that one in four college graduates still live with their parents because of the financial strain of their loans. One in nine would eat a tarantula if it helped pay off their debt faster.

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Once you’ve decided which repayment plan is right for you, find out how much you’ll have to pay each month. There’s a good chance that, after rent, loan payments could be your biggest expense, so be sure to know how much you’ll need.

Also remember to ask if your new organization has any kind of loan repayment assistance. It might not be offered to all employees or it might require you to take an overall salary cut, but it’s a fantastic perk to have.

Health insurance

If you’re lucky enough to still be covered by your parents’ insurance, it’ll definitely put less stress on your bank account. However, remember that eventually you’ll need your own. The sudden extra cost won’t necessarily coincide with a raise in pay, either.

Some employers offer coverage or assistance paying for company group plans. Before you enter your salary negotiation, get all the information on the benefits you qualify for, so you’ll know what portion of health care costs will fall on your shoulders.

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If your employer doesn’t offer any kind of health insurance, and you need to shop for it on your own, know that a low monthly premium isn’t always the best option for your long-term finances. Sure, a plan like that will be cheaper if you never get sick, but you’ll face higher copays if you do need to see a doctor. Fully research all your options, and find someone you trust to answer any questions you may have.

Getting a new job and becoming more adult can be very exciting. But, financially, it can also be a little scary. The best way to start taking control of your money is confidently negotiating the right salary for your lifestyle. Take the time to calculate how much new and unfamiliar expenses will cost you, so you’ll know when you’ve reached the right deal.

What other real-life considerations should be taken into account before a salary negotiations? Share in the comments below!

Featured photo credit: Death to the Stock Photo via deathtothestockphoto.com

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Published on March 20, 2019

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

Have you ever felt lost in the minutia of your job?

As a business owner, I can relate to getting bogged down in the day to day operations of my business. Things like inventory, payroll, scheduling, purchasing and employee management take up the bulk of my day.

While these things are important and need to get done, focusing too much on the details can make you lose sight of the big picture. This is why having a good mission statement comes in handy.

What is a Mission Statement?

Put simply, a mission statement is an internal document that provides a clear purpose for the organization. It provides a common reference point for everyone in the organization to start from.

In other words, after reading your company’s mission statement, managers and employees should be able to answer the question “What are company’s main objectives?” For example, Southwest Airlines mission statement reads:[1]

“Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.”

In this single statement, Southwest conveys the company’s goals of providing the highest level of customer service as well as providing a good working environment for their employees.

Mission Statement VS. Vision Statement

While the mission and vision statements are related, there are subtle but distinct differences the you should be aware of.

First of all, a mission statement is designed primarily as an internal company document. It provides clarity and direction for managers and employees.

While there’s nothing wrong with sharing your company’s mission statement with the outside world, its intended audience is within the company.

While a mission statement provides a general framework for the organization, the vision statement is usually a more inspirational statement designed to motivate employees and inspire customers. Going back to Southwest Airlines, their vision statement reads:[2]

“To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.”

This statement inspires good feeling from the customer while motivating the employees to achieve that vision.

What Does a Good Mission Statement Look Like?

When coming up with a mission statement, it’s important to take your time and do it right. Too often, people (especially entrepreneurs) just write down the first thing that comes to mind and they end up with worthless or (worse yet) a generic mission statement that is utterly useless.

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Remember, a mission statement should provide a common framework for everyone in your organization.

When writing a mission statement, you should always try to incorporate the following;

  • What we do?
  • How we do it?
  • Whom do we do it for?
  • What value are we bringing?

Now, you can see how tempting it is to just come up with something generic that ticks off those four boxes. Something like “We provide the best widgets available online for the consumer.”

After all, that did check off all the boxes:

What we do? Provide widgets.

How we do it? Online.

Who do we do it for? The consumer.

What value we bring? The best widgets.

The problem with this mission statement is that it could apply to any number of companies producing the same widget. There is nothing to distinguish your company or its widgets from any of your competitors widgets.

Compare that mission statement to this one:

“We provide the highest quality widgets directly to the consumer at an affordable price backed up with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If our clients aren’t 100% satisfied, we’ll make it right.”

What’s the difference?

Both mission statements answer all the same questions of what, how, whom and value. But in the second statement, they are differentiating their company from all other competitors by answering the question “what makes us unique”.

Another way to read that is, “Why you should buy from us.” In this example, it’s because our widgets are of the highest quality and we stand behind them 100%.

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You might have noticed the statement didn’t say that we sell widgets at the lowest possible price. That’s because we are emphasizing quality and satisfaction over price.

A different company’s mission statement may emphasize selling widgets at the lowest possible price with little to no mention of a guarantee.

Hallmarks of a Good Mission Statement

1. Keep It Brief

Your mission statement should be no longer than three sentences. This is not your company’s magnum opus.

You should be able to distill the what, how, who and why questions into a succinct message.

2. Have a Purpose

A company’s missions statement should include the reason it even exists.

Make clear exactly what the company does with statements like “We strive to provide our customers with …….”

3. Include a “How”

Take this as an opportunity to differentiate your company from its competitors.

How do you provide a product or service that’s different or better than how your competitor provides it?

4. Talk About the Value You Bring to the Table

This is where you can really set yourself apart from the competition. This is the “why” customers should buy from you.

Do you offer the lowest prices? Fastest delivery? Exceptional customer service? Whatever it is that sets you apart and gives your particular products, services or company an advantage talk about it in the mission statement.

5. Make Sure It’s Plausible

It’s okay to shoot for the stars just to settle for the moon, but not in a mission statement.

Being overly ambitious will only set you and your employees up for failure, hurt morale and make you lose credibility. You will also scare away potential investors if they think that you are not being realistic in your mission statement.

6. Make It Unique and Distinctive

Imagine if someone who knew nothing about your business walked in and saw how it was operating, then they read your mission statement. Would they be able to recognize that mission statement was attached to that business? If not re-work it.

7. Think Long Term

A mission statement should be narrow enough so that it provides a common framework for the existing business, but open enough to allow for longer term goals. It should be able to grow as the business grows.

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8. Get Feedback

This is very important, especially from managers and employees.

Getting their input can clarify how they currently see the company and their role within the organization. It’s also a good way to get people “on-board,” as studies show that people are more likely to go along with an idea if they feel included in the decision making process beforehand.

9. Review Often and Revise as Necessary

You should review the missions statement often for two reasons.

First, as a reminder of what the essence of the company is. It’s easy to forget when you are in the day to day grind of the business.

And two, to make sure that the mission statement is still relevant. Things change, and not everything can be anticipated at the time a mission statement was written.

For example, if a mission statement was written before the advent of the internet, a company that use to sell things door to door now probably has a website that people order from. You should always update the mission statement to reflect these changes.

The Value of Mission Statements: Why Go Through All of These in the First Place?

It may seem like a lot of work just for a few sentences that describe a company, but the value of a well written mission statement should not be discounted.

First of all, if you are an entrepreneur, crystallizing the what, how, whom and value questions will keep you focused on the core business and its values.

If you are a manager or other employee, knowing the company’s basic tenants will help inform your interactions with both customers and colleagues alike.

Strategic Planning

A relevant mission statement acts as a framework for strategic planning. It provides guidance and parameters for making strategic decisions for the future of the company.

Measuring Performance

By having the company’s mission in a concrete form, it also allows for an objective measurement of how well the organization is meeting its stated goals at any one time.

Management can identify strengths and weaknesses in the organization based on the criteria set forth in the mission statement and make decisions accordingly.

Solidifying the Company’s Goals and Values for Employees

Part of a well run organization is nurturing happy and productive employees.

As humans, we all have an innate need for both purpose and to be part of something larger than ourselves. Providing employees with a clearly defined mission statement helps to define their role in the larger organization. Thus, fulfilling both of these needs.

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Now I’m not saying that a mission statement can overcome low pay and poor working conditions, but with everything else being equal, it can contribute to a happier and more productive workforce.

To Hold Management Accountable

By creating a mission statement, a company is publicly stating its highest values and goals for the world to see. By doing so, you are inviting both the public and your employees to to scrutinize how well the company lives up to its ideals.

So if you state that you only provide the highest quality products, and then offer something less, it’s fair for both the public and the employees to question, and even call for a change in management.

If management doesn’t take the mission statement seriously, no one else will either; and the legitimate authority that management rely’s on will be diminished.

To Serve as an Example

This is the opposite side of the coin from the previous statement. If the highest levels of management are seen taking the mission statement seriously and actively managing within the framework of the statement, that attitude filters down throughout the organization.

After all, a good employee knows what’s important to their boss and will take the steps necessary to curry favor with them.

Finally, use the company’s mission statement as a way to define roles within the company. You can do this by giving each division in the company a copy of the mission statement and challenge the head of each division to create a mission statement for their respective departments.

Their individual mission statements should focus on how each department fits in and ultimately contributes to the success of the company’s overall mission statement. This serves as both a clarifying and a team building exercise for all parts of the organization.

Final Thoughts

Developing a mission statement is too often just an after-thought, especially for entrepreneurs. We tend to prioritize things that we perceive will give us the biggest “bang for our buck.”

Somehow, taking the time and effort to sit down and think seriously about the what, whom, how and value of our business seems like a waste of time. After all, we got in the business to make money and become successful, isn’t that all we need to know?

That mindset will probably get you started okay, but if you find yourself having any success at all, you’ll find that there really is such a thing as growing pains.

By putting in the time and effort to create a mission statement, you are laying the groundwork that will give you a path to follow in your growth. And isn’t building long term success what we are really after?

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Featured photo credit: Fab Lentz via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Southwest Airlines: About Page
[2] Fit Small Business: 10 Vision Statement Examples To Spark Your Imagination

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