At a startup where the senior dev team have been here 3years, almost since the start, and their options are now vested. We have product in the market, are just about cash-flow positive, but are still a few years away from an exit.
How do I stop the team leaving?
If they were really motivated by startup excitement , risk, and options then the logical route would be to leave here, banking the shares, and find a new early stage startup and do it again.
If the product was mature, stable and moving into maintenance then; Fine - they leave and I get a bunch of 'B'-student completer-finishers to grind on. But we still have a lot of hard work to do now that we have customers "to delight".
I can't go to the board and say I need a 50% pay rise for everyone - just to compete with what regular dev jobs pay, never mind what Google/Facebook etc would offer. Especially not if I'm also saying - the all-nighters and weekends stop now we are a regular company.
I can't go to the devs and say; there's no more pay but keep working hard to earn the salesmen their massive bonuses, and your efforts will raise the value of the company and your options will be worth a few % points more.
What do companies do to retain staff in these circumstances?