How Creating An ESOP Plays A Vital Role In Startup Growth by@sarathcp92

How Creating An ESOP Plays A Vital Role In Startup Growth

Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) are a type of employee benefit plan that encourages employees to purchase company stock to hold the company's ownership. An ESOP can be a great tool for startups to use in order to attract, retain and motivate the best talent.
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Sarath C P

Digital Strategist and Consultant, Growth Hacking Specialist worked for both startups & big brands.

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Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) are a type of employee benefit plan that encourages employees to purchase company stock to hold the company's ownership. Employee stock ownership plans can be an integral part of a company startup as it promotes the culture for success, growth, and longevity. The ethos of a startup is often an intense environment filled with pressure, long hours, and intense competition, all of which can be detrimental to employee morale. In this case, empowering employees with the company's ownership is beneficial in creating an atmosphere conducive to achieving prosperity and success.

Read on to find out how employee stock ownership plans can play a vital role in startup growth.

ESOP and startup growth

In this competitive world, employee retention is vital to the health of a company, and therefore, the movement towards an ESOP is a step in the right direction. As a startup, the creation of an ESOP is a step towards a more favorable and successful company, as it incorporates the idea of employee ownership. The ESOP has proven to be an extremely efficient method for a company to grow; thus, it can be seen as a gateway to success and prosperity.

What is ESOP?

ESOP is an effective method of promoting employees to acquire stocks and shares in a company. It is the process where company shares are offered to employees at an attractive price as part of their compensation package. The idea behind an ESOP is that it will help the employee acquire and retain ownership of the company, as well as develop a long-term financial commitment. The importance of ESOP lies in the fact that it allows employees to share in a company's success through their ownership of the shares. Thus, ESOP is essential for startup growth and can be considered a fundamental ingredient in a company's success.

Features of ESOP in startups

The ESOP can be a great tool for startups to use in order to attract, retain and motivate the best talent. It has been proven that the ESOP is an effective form of compensation; by giving employees a vested interest in the company, their loyalty will increase, which in turn will help the company to become more profitable and successful.

Here are some of the features of ESOP that can be vital for startup growth:

  • The price of shares is predetermined and lower than the market value, and as such, employees are able to receive a portion of the company's profits at a discounted rate. This allows employees to get an advantage over the market and can provide a good bonus in the long run.
  • The exercise of the stock options is subject to a vesting period which ensures that employees hold onto the shares for a longer period of time. This is beneficial as it will increase their loyalty to the company, which directly impacts its financial health.
  • ESOPs can be exercised partially or fully, which allows them to be primarily used as a short-term or long-term plan. This gives employers the freedom to decide the length and purpose of the plan, thus creating user-friendly plans for employees.
  • Employers can give ESOPs to selective employees based on their performance and commitment to the company. The selection process should be transparent and fair; this will help the employer to retain the right talent.
  • The right to dispose of shares is a critical factor in the success of an ESOP. This means that employees can sell their shares with minimum restrictions and are able to buy additional shares in the company. This is beneficial as it further builds confidence in the employee and helps them make sound financial decisions based on their loyalty to the company.

Therefore, ESOP is a practical and efficient method for employee share ownership. It promotes the values of ownership, which in turn creates a culture that promotes loyalty to the company. 

How does ESOP work?

Setting up an ESOP starts with creating an ESOP trust fund into which all the employer's contributions of new shares of its own company will be deposited. The structure of ESOP is designed that outlines a detailed plan of the process of how the ESOP must be implemented. Employees are provided with the option of choosing their acquired shares by making an application to the ESOP trust fund. 

This is a fair and transparent process that allows employees to purchase the selected shares at an attractive price. While the legal and financial aspects of ESOP are important for the plan to be effective, a company must first create a culture that promotes ownership and participation in the company's success. It is suggested to appoint an ESOP advisor in order to provide guidance and support at the start of the plan. 

This can be an individual with diverse experience, knowledge, and a good understanding of the ESOP process. Thus, ESOP is an excellent method for employees to become part of the company, promote long-term financial commitments and enhance ownership values.

How does ESOP work from an employee perspective?

Employees are provided with the option of choosing their acquired shares by making an application to the ESOP trust fund. This is a fair and transparent process that allows employees to purchase the selected shares at an attractive price. The plan is designed to allow employees to become part of the company and gain a stake in its success. 

Further, employees can sell them after a defined period with minimum restrictions providing them with a good financial return. However, the process of buying additional shares is subject to an analysis of the employee's ability and commitment to the company. Therefore, the plan should be reviewed from time to time so that the proper allocation of shares and the retention of employees can be achieved. 

Importance of having ESOP in startups

When creating a company, an entrepreneur's main goal should be to sustain the long-term growth and success of the business. The benefits associated with ESOPs have been proven to positively impact employee loyalty, motivation, performance, and financial performance of the company. Following are some of the benefits of having an ESOP in a startup:

  • ESOPs are an effective tool to encourage employees to become part of the company. The process of setting up an ESOP creates a sense of ownership among employees by allowing them to share in the success of the company.
  • ESOPs create transparency and motivate employees to be committed to the company, thereby further increasing their productivity and performance. When there is a sense of ownership among employees, they will be motivated and continuously strive for success which will generate positive results in the performance and financial performance of the business.
  • The flexibility of buying and selling shares in the market increases the employee's confidence. Employees will have a better understanding of the financial value of their shares and will be able to sell them with minimum restrictions.

Therefore, ESOPs are an efficient and effective way to create a culture of ownership in a company, which will act as the foundation for employee loyalty and performance improvement.

How does ESOP become important in startup growth?

Well, it is true that employees are the main resources and assets of any startup. When a business is growing fast, the need for high performance and motivation among employees becomes vital. They are the ones who will generate new ideas and innovations and implement new strategies to sustain the growth of the company. ESOPs can be an effective tool in this regard as it develops a culture of ownership, enhancing employee commitment and driving continuous improvement to the business. Following are the reasons why ESOP is important for a startup's growth:

  • Attract the best talent - As a startup grows, the need for skilled and high-performing employees will increase. ESOP can be an effective tool in attracting talent as it provides employees with an opportunity to hold a stake in the business, thus encouraging them to work hard and achieve higher levels of performance. The plan starts with promoting employee ownership, which in return creates a culture of ownership and motivation.
  • Increase productivity - Employees realize the importance of running their company in a manner that makes it sustainable and increases their productivity. By holding a stake, employees become more invested in the company's success and increase their productivity as they know that they are part of it. As such, the increase in productivity will also help sustain the business's long-term growth.
  • Higher profits - ESOP is a great tool for creating a culture of ownership and employee participation. As employees take ownership and are more invested in the business, their performance and productivity levels will go up, and ultimately the business will generate higher profits. Such profits can be used for further growth of the company, investment in technology, or business expansion. It will also help to enhance the company's value and provide employees with a sense of achievement.
  • Additional source of income for employees - ESOPs can also be used as an additional source of income for employees. It is possible to sell the shares being held through ESOPs at a certain time period and gain higher returns. Similarly, employees can keep their shares in the ESOP trust fund for a long period of time and gain long-term benefits. As a result, ESOPs can be used to provide the employees with the best of both worlds: an additional source of income and a stake in the company.
  • Job security - ESOPs provide employees with a sense of financial security beyond the salary, which in turn can create job security. It is essential to note that employee participation in the business increases their loyalty and commitment to the company, thus providing them and the company with a sense of job security. This will further enhance the performance of the employees and the company. Such commitment will also help in creating employee-friendly and enjoyable working conditions.
  • Tax benefits - Contributions to the ESOP are tax-deductible for both the employer and the employee. Tax benefits are largely due to the fact that ESOPs are considered tax-free under the Internal Revenue Code. The contributions are allowed to be tax-deductible by the employer while they are not considered as income by the employee, thus providing tax benefits for both.
  • No change in governance - ESOPs are an effective way to hold the employees to a certain level of power without altering the company's management. In other words, this is like a corporation where employees have a stake in the company. However, it does not change the company's governance system and how majority shareholders handle it. It also allows for continuous employee engagement and ensures that they are committed to running the business. The process is also considered more tax-efficient as it does not involve a massive change in the company's governance.

Therefore, ESOPs are an effective way to drive employee participation and engagement as it creates a culture of ownership among the employees of the business. Such culture will, in turn, enhance the performance and productivity of the employees while also helping to drive continuous improvement in the business.


Employee Ownership Plans can be implemented at the earliest stages of startup growth to ensure employee engagement and motivate them to perform well. In turn, such participation will ultimately ensure that the company is managed efficiently and achieves its long-term business goals. This will also help to increase productivity, drive continuous improvement and generate higher profits. To create ESOP in a startup, a careful approach should be followed. This can help to ensure that the plan and the business are sustainable and will in turn provide an employee-friendly environment for long-term growth.

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