Stop Asking for a Raise, Go Start Your Own Thing

Stop Asking for a Raise, Go Start Your Own Thing

You’ll never become rich with a 9–5 salary

Stop Asking for a Raise, Go Start Your Own Thing
Consumer-price index, change from a year earlier — Source

I was in a meeting the other day and the topic of salary came up. I don’t exactly recall how it happened, but I remember someone said: “I don’t know about you guys, but I could use a raise, especially for the amount of work I get done.” Right then and there, I felt like leaving the meeting, folding down my laptop, and going to write the article you’re about to read. I didn’t do that, but here is the article anyway.

This kind of “I don’t get paid enough” statement often tends to make me jump out of my seat. It’s not because I don’t believe people should get paid fairly, of course, they should. But if you have a 9–5 office job where you spend most of your day sitting down at a computer, going in and out of meetings, and chatting with colleagues at the coffee machine, I have one question for you: What do you have to complain about, and who is to blame if you feel that way?

The second part of the question is the most important here. We live in a world where opportunity is mostly given to the already-privileged (they have better access to good education, money, job offers…) and where the people that are lucky enough to be born on the right side of the globe can pretty much turn their life into anything they want, given that they have enough willpower, commitment and a little bit of intelligence too.

This leads me to the core of this article: if you think you’re not making enough money, why don’t you go and do your own thing?

Let’s face it here. Unless you’re in the top 1% of the salaried workforce around the world, you’ll never become very rich with a 9–5 salary. Let’s say you make a nice salary of $90,000 per year, which is a great salary by any standards. Say you get a 5% raise every 2 years only because companies are cheap these days:

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After 30 years, you’re making $187,000 per year, which more than doubles your starting salary. That’s great, but by then you probably have a house, kids, a bunch of cars, your tax payments have increased too, and don’t forget about inflation. So at the end of the day, it doesn’t make a huge difference in your lifestyle. You’re more comfortable, sure, but you were already comfortable with close to $100K when you started out.

Of course, you can argue that if you live frugally and don’t own a house, cars, and nice things, then it does make a difference when you double your salary. But if you want to live the frugal way then what do you need more money for in the first place?

There was a time in corporate America (and in Europe too) when you could make a ton of money by working in an office long enough. It was one of the most reliable ways to climb the social and economic ladder. You can still do that, but it’s not the best way anymore, and the people who take that path don’t succeed by asking their boss for a raise. They outperform their peers and get promoted for it.

What about the people who take the normal path and slowly increase their salary over time, you ask? Well, these folks can get replaced so easily nowadays, managers just don’t see the value in raising their paycheck. That’s why your boss probably doesn’t think you’re worth the money, and that’s why asking for more just to make more will usually not lead anywhere.

Up until recently, it was generally accepted that a 2% raise every year was only fair, because that was the average inflation rate. If life was getting more expensive year after year, you had to make a little more to cope with the increase. Nowadays, this concept has gone out the window.

Have you checked the recent inflation rates around the world? In the US it’s 9.1%. In Europe, the average is almost as high. Even Southeast Asia, which is usually seen as one of the cheapest places to live and/or outsource production, is forecasted to hit 4.7% inflation.

Consumer-price index, change from a year earlier — Source

This means that if you live in Europe, you need a 9% salary increase, just to fight inflation. You can try delivering above your target for the year, but I’m pretty sure your boss is not going to give you that anyway.

The point here is this: if you want to make more, a raise doesn’t cut it anymore. It will be sucked down the inflation siphon right away, into a black hole of groceries, gasoline, and increased interest repayments. Of course, your employer (and the government) should help you fight rising prices by providing more for you, but it will only help keep your head above the water, it won’t make you rich.

Becoming rich doesn’t have to be the end goal. Some people want a raise because they want to make more than their friends, their brother-in-law… Some people want a raise to buy that new car that goes faster or a bigger house.

“Wealth: Any income that is at least one hundred dollars more a year than the income of one’s wife’s sister’s husband” — H L Mencken

The general rule of thumb is this: if you’re part of the people who want to make more to get more stuff, you probably need to reevaluate your priorities in life.

If you want to make more because you need it and can’t make ends meet, then modern capitalism is not working for you right now, and that’s a topic for another day. Regardless of which category you’re in, this chapter will be relevant for you.

When I was a teenager, I always told myself that if I ever became a multimillionaire, I would get people in need computers and teach them how to code and use the internet. I know Bill Gates has kind of similar projects, so maybe I should have given him a call back then, we could have hit it off.

If you can get your hands on a laptop, learn how to make money online, and are willing to keep trying until you succeed, you literally have 100x more chances at making 2 times your 9–5 salary within a few years.

Back in the day, if you wanted to give a serious shot at making big bucks, you could quit your job, start your company, and hustle. Some will argue it was actually easier to do then because the markets were not saturated and there was no competition. But the reality is that for every success story we all know (Gates, Bezos, Musk, Buffet…) hundreds of people failed and/or missed the bus.

These days, you can hustle from your bedroom outside of work hours, you don’t need to quit your job, and you don’t even need investors! You just need to learn how the internet money machine works. Just pick one industry, and learn:

  • Content creation
  • Online retail
  • Consulting
  • Freelance work

Note: I am aware that getting a laptop in the hands of the 1 billion people suffering from hunger around the world will not make them less hungry. Fixing extreme poverty is much more complex than getting people to know how the internet works, but my point is that if you’re privileged enough to have your basic needs covered, then learning to make money online will benefit you.

The possibilities are endless. You don’t have to create your business (although it will be the right thing to do once you start making serious dough) to start with, you can try things out, see if you like what you’re doing, and keep building from there.

I’m not a millionaire. I’m a business owner who makes more money than I ever thought possible creating content on the internet (through online courses, digital products, articles, and videos). 90% of my business income comes from the free stuff I put out. Every time I ask myself: “How can I make more money?” I focus on the money my business makes, not my salary. I’m 100% in control of the former, the latter is being paid to me by my boss and is virtually capped.

It doesn’t mean I’m not involved in the work I do at my 9–5. What it does mean is that I dedicate a ton of my free time to handling and growing my business, in the hope that one day it will make much more than I need, so I that I don’t have to think about money anymore.

Look, if it was easy to be your own boss and make your own money everyone would do it, I understand that. I also know that many people reading this article may not make the money they deserve for the work they do. If you have a family to feed, are a dedicated employee, and make a low salary, that’s not fair, especially for physically demanding jobs.

But if you make “okay money”, spend your days in an office, and want to make more “just because”, then I urge you to reconsider your priorities and your options. Entrepreneurship might be a great path to explore for you. Or maybe you need to rethink what you do for a living and become a trader, or another 9–5 job that can actually make you a ton of money.

We live in a world where the pandemic has both reshuffled the cards of entrepreneurship (it made it better) and redefined what it means to be poor (it made it worse). It’s now easier than ever to start a business from your bedroom, while the gap between the rich and the poor has widened for the first time in decades.


If you have a 9–5 job and are unhappy with it, then go do something else, don’t hold onto hopes of a raise you may never get. Go be happier somewhere else, and don’t be greedy. Remember that there are people waiting tables and cleaning toilets that are making nowhere near the money you make, for 10 times the physical burden.

When I was a teenager, I had an internship at a big advertising company. A 50-year-old lady there told me she hadn’t had a raise in over 5 years. I haven’t heard from her since, but I bet you she still makes the same.

If you want to make more money, embrace the opportunities this world has to offer. If you’re reading this you’re probably already in a privileged position, you already have a head start.

So educate yourself on your options, go build something great, and enjoy the journey.

Go to Publisher:

Entrepreneur's Handbook – Medium

Author: Joseph Mavericks