I am a co-founder looking to start a new life, what are my options?

My partners and I started a boutique software development firm and we’ve been going at it for 5 years now. We’ve grown the company considerably and have been seeing good numbers year after year.

However, I am totally burned out. I am overwhelmed with all the projects/clients that we have, I struggle with my partners’ quirks and different point of views on how to grow the company, I struggle with the way my partners handle our finances, the quality of our office space, etc., etc…

I don’t like how our CEO is handling the business, to be quiet frank. He is putting so much work on our plates and dismisses my views on hiring good, experienced, expensive people and putting in systems so that we won’t have to be so hands-on anymore. He has his reasons and I agree most of the time but I am getting really tired.

I’m starting to think of going back to work as an employee of another company. At least there I’ll have a life and not worry about my family’s future so much. Is this a good idea? Can I still keep my share in this company while working for another IT company? What can I do?

  • “Can I still own my shares ?”: proofread your contracts. In general, yes, of course you can keep them.

    A burn-out is a serious disease, do not wait until your workforce shrinks to 0%.

    Cancel your old job only after having found a new one which meets your new requirements clearly better. Make sure your old company gets good support from you in the weeks of your leaving – it is in your own financial and reputational interest.

  • Speak to your co-founder and be open about it. Maybe you just need a 1 month break and then come back. If you don’t work for the company you probably cannot receive a salary anymore. Maybe he wants to buy you out.

  • I don’t know how big is your business, but in those cases, first you have to figure out the real reason, why you feel burned out and decide in normal mode about your future.

    If the only reason is the work on your desk, you should speak and reorganise with your ceo the workflow and your responsibilities. Only clear communication with your partners helps you out of your crises.

    But your text sounds, you already gived up your team and your business.

    Working during your partnership for others will create huge problems.

    I would recommend to make a clean cut and start then a new life. Otherwise you have the next crisis knocking on your door.

    Mostly startup companies make a deal with old founders that a new co-founder overtake your shares. Depending in which stage your startup is, if the co-founder position can’t be filled fast enough with a new one, probably everyone will loose his shares.

    I hope this helps a little bit

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