I work for a small company (me, my boss, and a third guy, but he only helps us sometimes) in a relatively small town where I work for half, or 3/5, of the money which I could earn in the capital. It's not much but because I live at home it's not the biggest problem.

There was a 9 month project where the goal was to finish the application, which we succeeded. My boss told me in the 5th month, that maybe after the 6th, but after the 9th month he will give me a raise. The 9th month is done and the project is at the level where it should be, but in the past weeks he has never mentioned the raise. Ok, the application still not for sale but there are already potential buyers.

I think this project is worth more than my salary but I understand that my boss could not pay more for a "we-will-see-if-it-works" project. But now after 9 months, after I worked almost alone and he mostly only told me the way, I think I deserve more. I would also like to move out from my parents soon so there are reasons, but still I don't want him to feel like "he gives me more or I'm out". Should I tell him what I wrote here, or try it from a different angle?

Note, that we (my family) never had much money, so asking for more money is always a bit strange to me.

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    were you promised a raise after 9th month? What were terms of this promise, formal or informal, were there any conditions discussed for the promise? – gnat Mar 13 '14 at 12:41
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    @gnat: he "just" said it to me, but not once, not twice, but a few times. It's not a signed paper, I know, but because we work together for 9 month now, I can not say, that he just said it to me to hold me here. – matthew3r Mar 13 '14 at 15:05
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    And also thanks for the answers, I will try to speak with him when both of us are calm and not stressed. I will write back in a few days how it went. – matthew3r Mar 13 '14 at 15:11

If you want a raise, you'll need to help him see that it's worth it to him to provide that. My first suggestion, therefore, is to leave out your personal situation; that will only distract from the end goal.

Can you pull together some data that shows how your hard work has contributed to the bottom line? I've had luck with hard numbers. "My work on project XYZ resulted in savings of 55% processing time, which translates into savings of $70k over a year in productivity of the ABC department while doing task Whatever." Also, if you can find it, add some data about comparable salaries in your area for your job/area of expertise/skill set.

Try to find a time to talk when you're not feeling particularly stressed, and can put forward your request in a confident manner. Schedule a meeting for a time when you know your boss can give you his full attention. If he's not stressed and is open and listening and available, you'll have a better chance of convincing him of the wisdom of your argument.

Finally, know your end goal. If he absolutely cannot afford to grant you a raise or bonus until the product starts to sell, get a hard commitment in writing about what will happen when it does sell. Also, decide if there's something else you'd accept in lieu of a raise. More vacation time? Shorter hours? Better benefits (or if you don't have them, benefits)? Give yourself several end options that you feel good about.

And if you come out of this process without an acceptable compromise, maybe it's time to start looking for a new position. IMHO, nothing stinks more than broken promises.

Good luck to you!

  • I asked this question long ago, but finally yesterday there was a chance to speak with him. He said, that I'm right, he promised the raise, and he is feeling bad too, but there were other things what prevented him. But he said in the next salary there will be already a raise. Both you and NivBK gave me a good answer, but because you were the first, and I used many tips from yours, and also I can only accept one, I will accept your answer. Thank you! – matthew3r Apr 10 '14 at 7:51

Working on a unprofitable product is always problematic. Both employers and employees need to deal with a lot of uncertainties.

The best thing for you to do is learn to get into your employer shoes. The two most important things for an employers in an unprofitable business is to have enough money for the changes and improvements needed for the product to become profitable and not less important to have the best employees doing it for at least money as possible.

Try to think what does it mean for your boss to accept and what does it mean to refuse.

if you will succeed to convince your boss to that giving you a raise will improve the chances of the business becoming successful and profitable, he will no doubt give you that raise.

Ways to do it (don't say the things in the brackets):
- Talk about you being part of the core development force (it will take time to teach someone new the code) - Talk about your enthusiasm for the product and how important is to you to make it successful. - If it makes sense in your situation, talk about you seeing yourself developing a career in this company and growing with it.

Don't be afraid of the answers you'll get. Always try to understand how you can improve yourself and be of more value. Know how much you worth and work hard to make your superiors know it to.

Best of luck to you.

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