Tori Dunlap talks about starting a business as a kid and negotiating your salary and her mission to help women earn their first $100k.
For her, that means saving her first $100,000 by 25. However, her story starts many years ago.
Tori’s Money Story
From the beginning, she was an ambitious person. She was a straight-A student with tons of extracurriculars. Plus, she started a business at age nine!
As she grew up, she watched her parents make smart financial choices. Every three months, her dad would call the cable company to negotiate the bill. So negotiating was always something normal to her.
It was not only having just the great financial education of seeing my parents be really responsible with money but also managing my own money myself. So I learned, I learned all of that. I really learned how to dig deep into the trenches of how to your manage money, how to be responsible, and make good choices.
Starting A Business At Age Nine
Tori started a vending machine business with the help of her dad at age nine. By the time she graduated high school, she had 15 vending machines. Eventually, she sold this business to another nine-year-old.
Owning her own business helped her understand how to manage her own money. The whole business started when her dad bought a vending machine from a client. It was the kind of vending machine that accepts a single quarter in exchange for a handful of candy.
Tori’s nine-year-old self immediately wanted to buy more vending machines as soon as she got the first machine up and running. However, her dad guided her more intentionally, and realistically. He reminded her that she had to pay him back for the first machine before she could start saving for a second machine. It took about a year to save up enough to buy the second machine.
She had to learn how to purchase her product, price the product, pitch herself, place the machines, scale the business, and learn about accounting. With help from her dad, she learned a lot. Each machine had different customers with different likes, but after seven years they narrowed it down to four types of candy.
As far as working with her dad, he helped pitch her product in the beginning. As a ten-year-old, she just watched and learned. Over time, she learned how to play the game. Most of her clients were warm leads found by her dad, but she learned to pitch them herself. With a basic contract, she would seal the deal. The terms included rent-free real estate in exchange for her keeping the machine clean and stocked.
The profits went into her college fund, so that helped in the next phase of her life.
Getting Through College Debt-Free
Tori earned merit scholarships and used savings from a summer job to fund part of the expenses. The rest of the expense was covered by her parents.
I was able to graduate college debt-free. And that’s part of my story that I like to acknowledge is the privilege of that; that I wouldn’t be close to 100k at 25 if I hadn’t had that privilege of graduating debt-free. So, yeah, it was not a silver spoon. Like, my parents did help financially but it was very much a collaborative conversation, where we would sit down before every semester and we’d say “ok, how are we going to pay for this?”
Although her parents helped fund her college expenses, it was a collaborative process of working towards a goal together.
Tori recognizes her privilege but she is not spoiled. Her parents helped to support her but she made the most of that opportunity. With her hard work, she has been able to make the most of her parents’ investment. Along the way, they taught her lessons that she has been able to take forward with her.
I think [supporting your kids is] not only setting kids up for success but understanding that they have to run across the finish line. You can hand them the baton but they have to still keep going.
Negotiate Your Salary
After negotiating every single job she has ever had, women peers started to ask her questions. They wanted to know more about how to negotiate. Although many people say that we should negotiate, few explain how to actually do it.
Women in society are, unfortunately, told “You should just be grateful for your opportunities. And you should just be comfortable and good with that.” And negotiation is, literally, pushing back on that. Being grateful, of course, but also saying, like “No. I’m worthy and deserving of more.” And not just an arbitrary number out of the air, but like, here’s the data to back it up.
It is extremely hard to advocate for yourself, especially as a woman. She has taken what she has learned from her own negotiations and pulled together advice.
Listen: Career Hacking With ESI
Do Your Research
First, it is important to do your research. Data and research is the first key thing to a negotiation.
Research is important for a couple of reasons. First, without data to back up your ask the employer has less incentive to grant your request. Second, you will have more confidence asking for the number with data to back up your request.
You can do research through Glassdoor and Payscale. However, both treat you as a two-dimension person and leave out the special skills that you have. Both are a good place to start for your expected salary range for your job title and location.
Additionally, you should find out more from colleagues either within your company or within your network. Talk to others in your field or hiring managers. Give them the position of the job and the work involved to the colleague and ask them to price the position. You’ll get the information in a non-threatening way. Another option is to ask them if they are comfortable letting you know if they make above or below a certain number. This can help to narrow done a range.
Gratitude Sandwich For Salary Negotiation
Once you know what you should be paid, it is time to enter the negotiation. Tori walks us through her gratitude sandwich.
The Bread: Gratitude Statement. First, let them know that you appreciate the opportunity and you are excited to get started. Thank them for the offer before making your ask.
The Meat: Data And ASK. Now it is time to ask for your fair salary. Use language that shows you have done your research. For example, ‘based on market data, skills, and education I’m looking at a range of x to y in order to be fairly compensated.’
For example, you were offered 60k but know you should make 70k, then you’ll need to ask for higher than 70k. Ask for more like 75k to 78k in order to land around the market rate. Always ask for more than you are looking for.
Negotiations are collaborations not conflicts. They’re not like, you know, put on your boxing gloves, unsheath your sword. If that’s what you’re thinking of a negotiation as that’s not a negotiation. That’s an argument, that’s a fight. So, you’re gonna have to realize that it’s going to be a compromise at the end of the day. You should be getting something you want and the other person should be too.
Negotiations are a compromise. If you are expecting a battle, then you aren’t preparing for a negotiation.
The Condiments: Collaborative Statement. After making your ask, make a collaborative statement. Show them that you are willing to work together to find a number that you are both comfortable with.
The Bread: Gratitude Statement. Wrap up your ask with another statement of gratitude. Remind you are grateful for the opportunity.
With any negotiation, there are three options.
- Accept the offer
- Say no
- Make a counter
Remember, you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. If you do good work, then that company would be lucky to have you and they know it.
Making It Happen
Many people, especially women, are uncomfortable negotiating. However, it is critical. If you don’t negotiate in your first base salary, then all subsequent raises will be less valuable.
Know your worth and ask for it.
You gotta remove these limiting beliefs that keep you from seeing your own worth.
Once you start negotiating in one area of your life, you’ll start to create more self-value. You’ll start to realize that you are worth more and make it a point to ask for that.
If you are a woman, then your negotiation is even more important. You are setting a precedent of what you will and will not allow in a gracious way. Plus, you are helping other women feel confident to ask for their worth as well.
The value of negotiating varies by field. However, this information is valuable to everyone.
Tori helps people all over the world learn to negotiate through online virtual workshops and one-on-one coaching. Although the workshops are geared towards women, they are open to everyone.
A few of her recent success stories include:
- Helping a woman in the Seattle tech industry earn about $30,000 more in benefits and salary than her original offer.
- Helped a woman earn an extra $12,000 per year.
- Helped a teacher negotiate for an extra $3,000 per year.
Negotiation is a muscle. I tell people that all the time. The more you are strengthening it, the more you’re, you know, showing up; the more you’re doing it, the more confident you will feel later.
Remember, there are more things to negotiate than just your salary. You might want a work from home schedule, more paid time off, an education stipend, and more.
Once you start advocating for yourself, you’ll grow in so many ways.
Women who negotiate, on average, make a million dollars more over their career than women who don’t.
How To Connect
Connect with Tori on her site, Her First 100k. You can also follow her on Instagram @herfirst100k
Tori believes she was put on this earth to fight for women’s financial rights. She loves to give women more resources–not only to get more money but to keep it and grow it. She is available for workshops, public speaking, and coaching.
The Hot Seat
Favorite Blog, Podcast, or Book: The Great Gatsby
An Inflection Point: She took a job for the money even though her gut told her not to. Two days into the job she realized that is wasn’t a good work environment. She had to quit 10 weeks into the job without another job lined up which led to a stint of unemployment for three months.
The experience taught her to realize that money is great but your happiness is way more important than a few thousand dollars. She reminds everyone to trust their gut. She couldn’t pinpoint why she didn’t want to take the job but they agreed to a huge jump in salary without any pushback. Where you spend 40 hours a week will affect your happiness so it is important to have a job that is at least not toxic.
Favorite Life Hack: Getting enough sleep. Between a full-time job and a side hustle, it is critical to take care of herself. Without 7 hours of sleep, it can be impossible to give her best to the tasks at hand.
Biggest Financial Mistake: She took the job for the money. However, it led to quitting. She was forced to live off of her emergency fund for several months before finding a new job.
The advice you would give your younger self: Worry less. Worry less because everything happens for a reason. Play the “what’s the worst that can happen?’ game. It balances out the anxiety.
Bonus! What purchase have you made over the past 12 months that has brought the most value to your life? She chooses to live in an apartment without roommates in Seattle. Although she could save hundreds by getting a roommate, she enjoys the freedom of living alone.
- How Kids Can Make Money And Get A Financial Jump Start
- Podcast Episode: Your Money and Your Relationships
- Building Financial Confidence With Tori Dunlap
New to FI? Be sure to check out Episode 100: Welcome To The FI Community!