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How Much Should a Startup Spend on Salaries?

As a startup, it's important to carefully manage your finances in order to maximize your runway and ensure long-term sustainability. One of the biggest expenses for any company is salaries, and startups are no exception. However, determining how much to spend on salaries can be a challenging task, as it depends on a variety of factors.

Here are some key considerations when determining how much a startup should spend on salaries:

Industry standards

It's important to research industry standards for salaries in your specific field. This can give you a benchmark to compare against and ensure that you are offering competitive compensation to attract top talent.

Experience level

The level of experience required for each role will also impact the salary range. Junior roles typically have lower salaries than senior roles, and the level of experience required for a particular role can vary depending on the specific needs of the company.


The cost of living in the area where your startup is located can also impact the amount you should spend on salaries. For example, salaries in San Francisco may need to be higher than salaries in a smaller city with a lower cost of living.

Stage of the company

The stage of the company can also impact salary decisions. In the early stages, startups may need to be more conservative with salaries in order to maximize runway and ensure long-term sustainability. As the company grows and becomes more established, higher salaries may be necessary to attract and retain top talent.


In addition to cash compensation, startups may also offer equity as part of an employee's compensation package. This can be a powerful tool for attracting and retaining top talent, but it's important to balance equity with cash compensation in order to ensure that employees are being fairly compensated for their work.

Hire a Startup Advisor

The amount a startup should spend on salaries will depend on a variety of factors specific to the company and the industry. By carefully considering these factors and making informed decisions, startups can ensure that they are offering competitive compensation while still maintaining financial sustainability.

Upthriving is a fully integrated startup growth service for entrepreneurs that have built a product with market fit. More than a startup advisory service, we execute projects that maximize revenue for your business while you focus on building the product.

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