Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Lesson #249: Executive Compensation Benchmarks for Growth-Stage Companies

Posted By: George Deeb - 11/15/2016


& Comment

I am often asked to help Red Rocket clients with recruiting related projects, and one of the questions that comes up is how much should they pay for their various executive positions.  Well, lucky for them (and you), the team at River Cities Capital Funds (RCCF), a growth stage venture capital fund based in Cincinnati, just recently surveyed 19 private growth-stage companies in the technology and healthcare sectors which clearly helps us answer that question.

My colleagues at RCCF were kind enough to let me share their survey results with all of you, below.  And, you can find the full survey results on their website, which includes trend data over time.

Not only does this chart show the base salary for each position, but it also details the typical annual bonuses, commission plans and stock option ownership for every level.  In addition to showing the overall averages (in the big numbers), it also shows the range of the data points from low to high, for each role (in the smaller numbers).  Hopefully, this will be very helpful for all your recruiting efforts.

Obviously, this level of compensation is for venture-capital backed, growth-stage companies (e.g., think $10MM to $100MM in revenues).  So, if you are earlier stage than this, the compensation will be less than what is illustrated above.  And, if you are later stage than this, the compensation will be higher than what is illustrated above.  But, in any case, this is very useful data to benchmark yourself against.

Also, worth mentioning, these salary levels assume there is a stock option plan in place.  So, if you don't currently have a stock option plan, it would be good to consider adding one.  And, if you prefer not to offer stock options, then you are going to have to offer materially higher salaries than are listed above (e.g., 25%-50% more), in order to make up for the less perceived value without the stock options.

So, the real question here is: are you paying your executives a market-rate compensation package?  If not, there are thousands of other companies that are, and you don't want to risk losing your best talent to other companies, or handicap your recruiting efforts in any way. So, right size your executive compensation packages to position your company in the best light compared to others.

11-09-21  ADDENDUM--This analysis from RCCF was updated for 2021.  Here is the newest data.

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