How to know when you deserve a raise—and when you need a pay cut

WHEN ELIZABETH SOPHER and Caroline Portis decided to commit full time to their Denver-based bedding business, QuickZip, they knew pay cuts were in order. As established professionals in their 50s—Sopher was an environmental scientist and Portis was a chief financial officer for a large company—they settled on salaries of $125,000 each.

But eight months later, when they joined the MergeLane accelerator for women-led businesses in February 2015, they realized their salaries were way too high. As MergeLane CEO Sue Heilbronner told the founders, “You should be paying yourself enough that you can get by, but not enough that you’re not freaking out—it’s this balance,” recalls Portis.

Since then, the QuickZip founders

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