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Make More Money: 5 Stories of Major Income Increases

Cynthia Ramnarace

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What would it take for you to increase your earnings by at least 20 percent in just one year?

DailyWorth talked with five women who did just that (including one who tripled her income!). And while all five accomplished it in different ways, they had one thing in common. Instead of sitting around waiting for others to give them a raise, each woman took courage, mixed it with confidence, and in her own way proved to the world “I am worth more.”

How did they do it? Read on.

Melanie Erickson, Sales Director


Increase: 20 percent
How She Did It: Approached her boss

Melanie Erickson knew she was underpaid. But the only way to fix that was if she could get her boss to think the same way. So, Melanie developed a plan. 

First, she waited for the right moment: Immediately after successfully completing a major project. “I wanted to catch them in a good mood, when this major initiative was still fresh in their minds,” Melanie says. “I wanted them thinking, ‘If there’s any question that this person could be unhappy and looking to leave, we don’t want that to happen.’”

She drafted a three-page “Why I deserve more” executive proposal. Using Salary.com and GlassDoor.com, Melanie established what others in her field were earning, proving that she was undervalued. She created a list of all her work accomplishments, highlighting that she met and/or exceeded every expectation made of her. 

“It wasn’t, ‘I want a raise,’” Melanie says. “It was, ‘I want to bring my compensation in line with my business responsibilities and contributions.’”  

She didn’t alert her boss that she wanted to discuss salary. She did not email her proposal in advance. Instead, she requested a meeting in a conference room (not the boss’ office, thus leveling the playing field) and handed him a printed copy. She then presented it to him, point by point. 

Melanie didn’t offer any ultimatums. If her boss had said no outright, she planned to ask that her immediate objectives be outlined and the request be revisited in 90 days. Otherwise, “I need to look into other options.”

Melanie didn’t need her backup plan. Her boss told her he supported her increase but had to get CEO approval. After some wrangling with human resources, Melanie learned a week later her request had been granted.

The raise made Melanie feel more confident in her job. But it also gave her confidence in herself. “It’s a pretty intimidating thing to go in and say ‘I want more money.’ It’s hard for women to do that,” says Melanie. “But you have to understand it’s a business proposition. What is your value to the organization? That’s what you have to come back to. ‘This is what I’m contributing. This is what I’m worth on the open market.’”

Demi Karpouzos, Owner, Strategical Coaching


Increase: 47 percent
How she did it: Hired a business coach

Four years ago, Demi opened a consulting business to give small business owners the tools they need to grow revenue. Problem was, Demi’s own small business needed some help. She knew how to help others succeed but found herself floundering. “Instead of doing the work that would bring me business, such as getting myself out in front of prospective clients, I was hiding behind the computer screen,” Demi says. She feared rejection and so didn’t risk it, which was making it difficult to cultivate new clients.

As her savings diminished and her debts increased, Demi panicked. Pretty soon she’d have no choice but to look for a salaried job, a fate that scared her more than getting up in front of a group of people and trying to sell her services. In a do-or-die move for her one-woman company, she took $10,000 and did what she recommends her own clients do: She hired a business coach.

The payoff was nearly instant. To get over her fear of public speaking, Demi’s coach encouraged her, and helped her prepare for, some free presentations to small groups. “As I did that I got more comfortable, but even better I was getting great feedback and getting a lot of clients too,” Demi says. She focused on marketing and networking and, to manage her time better, started her day by dispensing with the most difficult task first. With help from her coach, Demi also learned to silence the negative “self talk” that often sabotaged her in the past: the fear that she wasn’t good enough or didn’t deserve to earn as much as she did.

Her coach also encouraged her to raise her rates. “She told me if I didn’t feel that I was being properly compensated for what I was bringing, I wouldn’t be as excited about the work,” Demi says.  As her revenue increased, so did her confidence and her job satisfaction. Within one month, Demi went from living on savings to turning a profit. Her income has been steadily increasing over the last three years, passing the six-figure mark, and this year her income is on track to be nearly 50 percent higher than it was last year. 

“It’s one thing to have someone tell you what to do, but essentially it’s always up to ourselves to get the job done,” says Demi. 


Brittney Borowicz, Public Relations and Marketing


Increase: 90 percent
How she did it: Changed careers

Fresh out of college, Brittney Borowicz landed what she thought would be her dream job: news director at a television station in Rockford, Ill. The only problem? Her salary. She earned $10 an hour, or barely $21,000 a year, for a job on the 3-11 p.m. shift that also required she work weekends and holidays.

“In college I bartended and made a lot more than $10 an hour,” Brittney says. “So going into my first professional job and making less than what I made in college was very frustrating.”

More than 50 percent of Brittney’s take-home pay went toward paying her rent, leaving very little left for anything else. She ran up $12,000 in loans and credit card debt in less than a year. Knowing something had to change, Brittney talked to her boss about finding a different position that paid better. But salaries at small television stations are notoriously low across the board. Her boss, for example, earned only $4 more per hour than she did.

“I realized, ‘Oh my gosh, I might be here for 20 years and only be making $14 an hour. I can’t do that,’” Brittney says. And so when she heard through a colleague that a local credit union had an opening, and that the salary was nearly twice what she was making, she applied. Brittney made a complete career leap: She went from directing the news to recruiting new banking customers.

At first, moving from the profession she’d spent four years in college preparing for to a totally different industry left her feeling as if she’d wasted her time in college. But she soon realized that many of the skills she learned in school – public speaking and writing – were crucial to success at her new job. “Now I feel like my degree made me a more well-rounded person,” says Brittney. 

Brittney has decided to shift her career focus towards marketing, and she has since moved on to a new job that pays a bit more and allows her to gain more experience. She’s also paying off her debts and was able to move to a nicer apartment in a better neighborhood. “I don’t have to use a whole paycheck plus some just to pay for a month of rent,” Brittney says. “I can go out and hang out with friends and not have to worry about it. I can even go on vacations now.”

Tracy Petrucci, Owner, Marketing Ideas Into Action, an online marketing company


Increase: 300 percent
How She Did It: Found better childcare

When Tracy Petrucci’s daughter was born, trying to grow her fledgling marketing company became increasingly daunting. Her husband was working two jobs to support the family while Tracy was trying to fit work around caring for her child. Tracy knew that if she could devote more hours to her business, she could increase her profits, but only working during naps and after the baby went to sleep was taking its toll on both her and her marriage. 

“We never saw each other. We were both tired. Our marriage was dwindling,” Tracy says. “And finally we had the idea: What if you quit your day job and I can pick up the pace with my business?”

And so they gave it a try. Tracy’s husband kept his part-time night-shift job, the one with health benefits, but quit his day job and became a stay-at-home dad. Tracy now works full-time and is able to better market her business, get out in the community by teaching adult education classes and take on more and more new clients.

“It’s been a year and our lives are so much better,” says Tracy. “We’re building up savings. We paid off all of our debt. I am finally in a place where I’m no longer worried about how we’ll pay the bills. I am completely able to support us and it’s great.”

Jaclyn Peresetsky, Owner, Skin Perfect Image Wellness Spa


Increase: 35 percent
How she did it: Incentivized her staff

Six years ago, Jaclyn Peresetsky launched Skin Perfect, a personalized skin-care line and wellness spa in Columbus, Ohio. At first, she was the sole aesthetician working out of one room. Over time the company grew until she had to start hiring staff to meet client demand. She was working hard and realized that she could start taking home huge profits. Instead, she put that money back into her business.

“I realized I didn’t want to be a slave to my business,” Jaclyn says. “I wanted other people underneath me. I wanted others to help generate revenue.”

Jaclyn invested in creating a one-year training program for all new hires. They helped bring more clients to the company, but Jaclyn realized she could grow the company even more if she gave her employees a financial incentive. So instead of just encouraging them to bring in clients, Jaclyn upped the ante by creating a commission program. Salary would be based not only on the number of clients, but on overall revenue generation.

“My employees loved it,” Jaclyn says. “Some of them went from making $30,000 a year to $80,000 a year. They realized, ‘The harder I work, the more I make.’”

And as company owner, the harder her staff worked the more she made. Within the first year of the commission program, Jaclyn’s earnings increased 35 percent. She wasn’t necessarily working harder herself, but she had figured out how to make her employees work harder and earn more. She now has 13 employees, six who work on commission, and generates over $1 million in revenue annually. 

“We literally lived off credit cards for the first couple of years,” says Jaclyn. “It was the best feeling in the world to finally be in the black.” To continue growing revenue, Jaclyn hopes to license her business model.

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