Roughly two in five Americans worth $5 million or more are senior executives, managers, or business owners, according to research by Spectrem Group. A separate look at high-net-worth households by Phoenix Marketing International found that nearly 20% owned at least part of a closely held business or partnership last year. In other words, millionaires are decision-makers who have a real stake in the companies they own or help run. By thinking and acting as they do when it comes to your professional life, you can boost your income even if you work for someone else. “You are the CEO of your own career,” says Jaime Klein, founder of Inspire Human Resources.
Your Millionaire Moves
• Aim to boost your company’s bottom line. Research has found that the most important quality shared by entrepreneurs who build multimillion-dollar businesses—beyond risk taking—is having a strong profit-driven focus. As an employee, doing the same will elevate your standing and set you up for bigger raises and bonuses.
The average pay hike this year for salaried, exempt employees is just 3%, according to Aon Hewitt. But highly rated workers are expected to earn nearly 5% raises, according to Mercer. That may not sound like much more, but an extra two-point hike periodically—say, once every five years—can mean the difference between getting to $1 million and falling short.
How to get such a raise? When you suggest new ideas or projects, make it clear to your boss exactly what the impact will be on the firm’s profit and loss statement, says Rohit Arora, CEO of Biz2Credit.
“No matter where you are in the organization, your role is critical,” says Klein. She notes, for instance, that if this quarter’s goal is reducing spending and you work in procurement, look for vendors that can give bulk discounts.
• Go for the kill. In addition to higher raises, go after performance bonuses, says executive coach Stefanie Smith at Stratex Consulting. Show your company you really have a stake in its bottom line by asking your boss to set a goal based on a critical corporate target. “Leaders love data,” Klein says. “You could say if your team hits the deadline without incurring added overtime or external contractors, you’d be in line for a 10% bonus.” From the company’s perspective, a 10% bonus for you will pale in comparison to the savings achieved. And for you, it provides fuel to turbo-charge savings.
• Get paid by moving on. Many small-business owners are “serial entrepreneurs,” willing to shift gears to start new ventures when they know it’s time, a study by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation found.
Embrace that sensibility. Execs who changed jobs last year averaged a 16% pay increase, according to the executive-search firm Salveson Stetson Group. Just make sure you move to a firm where the skills you offer are vital.
Take Warren Colter, who last summer set his sights on getting a chief marketing officer job in Atlanta. The fiftysomething emphasized four key areas on his LinkedIn profile where he’d added value to past employers—for instance by increasing market share. Shortly after updating his profile, he heard about a CMO position with a German firm with offices in Atlanta.
By November he had gotten the job, where his earnings potential could increase by up to 15%, provided he meets certain benchmarks.
Adapted from “How to Get to $1 Million,” by Kara Brandeisky, Elaine Pofeldt, Penelope Wang, and Jackie Zimmermann, which appeared in the August 2015 issue of MONEY magazine.