Read my new book, An Enlightened Entrepreneur:
57 Meditations on Kicking @$$ in Business and Life"4.8/5 stars" on Amazon
Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Questions For You To Ask About Stock Options As Compensation

1 Comment

If you’re considering a new job, salary is of course important…but don’t forget about equity (especially in Internet/Silicon Valley-oriented companies).

Here are the simple questions to ask related to stock (I’m gonna keep this simple and limit discussion to stock options):

  • Can stock options be part of my compensation program?

If the answer is “yes,” than you move on to these basic questions:

  • How many stock options will be offered to this position?
  • What are the total number of shares currently outstanding? (this allows you to calculate the % of the company you could own)
  • What are the total number of shares that the company is authorized to issue? (this tells you what % of the company you’d own if they issued new new shares)
  • What is the current exercise price of the stock options? (this will usually be a low price unless it’s a publicly-traded company (in which case you have little to worry about because you will only be exercising the right to buy the stock if you’re going to sell it for a price that is known to the public (and which will be higher than the amount you’re paying).
  • How do the stock options vest? (this is the period of time through which they vest and at what rate (often, the shares vest over 4 years but with a one-year cliff (meaning that if you leave in less than 12 months, you would have zero stock vested but if you stay 2 years than you would have half of the shares vested).
  • What is the current valuation of the company?

Let’s say that the answer is that they can offer you 20,000 stock options for a strike price of $.01 each (i.e $200 total cost if you every exercised the options).

And let’s say that there are 1 million shares outstanding but another 1 million are authorized to issued (i.e. there are 2 million shares that may be outstanding one day).

Then, your 20,000 stock options would account for 2% of the currently outstanding shares or 1% of the shares that could be outstanding one day.

If the current valuation of the company (remember, you asked for this too) is $5 million, then you’re stock are worth at the low end 1% of the $5 million or $50,000 minus the $200 you’d have to pay to exercise the options (and, of course, minus whatever the capital gains taxes are at that time).

If you or other smart folks believe that the value of the company is going to increase (let’s say to $100 million within 4 years), then your 20,000 stock options (which should account for 1%+ of the biz) would be worth around $1 million.

That’s the basics of how stock option compensation works.

Good luck!

1 comment so far | Continue Reading »

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Questions To Ask Employers (When You’re Interviewing For A Job)


A friend of mine asked for my career advice the other day as he was preparing to interview for a job — I told him: turn the tables on your employer and ask THEM all the questions.

You may recall from A Simple 4-Step Approach on How To Sell Better (SPIN Selling), that I agree with the SPIN Selling approach in which you ask lots of questions to close a deal.

And this applies to a job interview in which you’re interviewing THEM as much as they are interviewing you.

Note: “Closing” the deal can include you closing it “out” (as in you don’t want to pursue the position)).

So, I rattled off these questions below. I suggest you immediately take control of the interview by saying something like: “Thank you for investing some time in me — would you mind if I began by asking a few questions about you and your business.

*Note: If any of these answers are available through research (e.g. on Web pages), you should research them ahead of time and skip asking them.

Questions To Ask Employers

Questions that Relate to the Person Interviewing You

  • How do you get hooked up with the business?
  • What are the top priorities for you right now?
  • What are some key things I can take off your plate?

Big-Picture Questions To Ask Employers

  • What are the top priorities for the entire business right now?
  • How is the company structure organized (e.g. is it by department or by brand (with each brand having its own departments) and how does your team fit in?*
  • What’s the “secret sauce” to how you make money (or create value)?
  • Who are the shareholders/owners of the company? (Do any of them work at the company?)*
  • Does the company have a purpose statement or mission statement?*
  • Does the company have a set of company values — if yes, may I see a list of them?*

Performance, Compensation & Benefits Questions To Ask Employers

  • How are priorities set? (e.g. within your group)
  • How will you measure my performance?
  • How does compensation work — is it just salary? Is there potential to earn bonuses or equity?
  • What’s the company’s approach to work versus personal/family time ?

Questions To Ask Employers That Relate to Just You

  • Who would my manager be and who do they report to?
  • What is the company’s room for moving up the corporate latter?
  • Are there any training opportunities I could potentially take advantage of?

I’ll add other questions to ask employers as I think of them…feel free to do the same in the comments section.

If you ask a lot of questions, and listen carefully, you’ll be in better shape to size up the job opportunity.

2 comments so far (is that a lot?) | Continue Reading »

  1. Pages:
  2. 1
  3. 2