The magic salary to ensure executive happiness is $75,000

The life of a CEO does not always include yachts and luxury homes.
The life of a CEO does not always include yachts and luxury homes.

The image of a yacht-owning company executive may not always apply to startup CEOs. Many times, these business leaders log tireless work days and do not immediately earn the perks that some in the public think they acquire easily. Sometimes, emerging businesses do not have a choice but to pay their leaders less money, so some may launch a global executive search to find leaders willing to take a reduced salary.

Startup CEOs may not be able to make six-figure salaries initially. In fact, a low salary may actually help boost the performance of an executive, since he or she has an incentive to continue to increase their output. A high CEO salary can also harm a company because all other employee salaries must be based off that figure. If that person is making a substantial sum of money, the pay of subordinates could also be high, resulting in widespread overspending.

The question for many companies is how much money an executive will demand in compensation. A 2010 study by The Wall Street Journal found that when executives make at least $75,000, they have maximized their day-to-day satisfaction, even though their long-term happiness will continue to increase as their salary climbs higher. Executives who make this amount of money and have additional motivations are most likely to be successful.

"The impossibility of the task is the thing that makes it so attractive," United Religions Initiative founder Bishop Swing told Inc.com. "Entrepreneurs are always on a pilgrimage which finally leads to the realm of the spirit. Inexorably, one has to end up in the field of the ultimate."

A retained executive search firm that does not require upfront payment could most benefit a company looking for new C-level talent through a CEO search. A startup that is tight on funds may prefer a service that charges a percentage of the executive's salary as a fee, especially if they keep that CEO's pay relatively low.