I’ve funded a startup with 4 more friends (my fault, but keep reading) and I am taking care of nearly everything.
To put you into perspective, we are setting up something with the same characteristics as Groupon and we are 5 in total, these are our roles:
Once we launch they (the sales guys) will spend more time working on the startup as they are right now but still I will need to maintain the whole website on my own and implement new features and functionalities including all my assigned departments mentioned above so I’ll still be really busy. And I shouldn’t delegate any departments as they do not have any experience or knowledge.
I am also the one that takes the big risk as they depend on me to work big time before they can start doing their jobs.
Following great advice from Joel in the “concept of fairness” in his great response for “Forming a new software startup, how do I allocate ownership fairly? ” We decided we would have equal shares (5 x 20%) and the idea is that each one of us earns the same salary when we become profitable.
One of the solutions we decided to take to compensate the amount of work each of us had was to outsource some of the workload. But we are self-funded and have very limited budget so each time we outsource a little project it hurts badly and I also have to plan everything myself (even more work) to make it happen as good and accurate as it had to be with ridiculous budgets so it takes a lot of time to do.
The main solutions we’ve found have been, apart from outsourcing: instant money or higher salary or more company shares. But money and shares are two things that seem untouchable in the company culture we have adopted and we are all friends.
Instant money does not work either because they don’t even have a clue on how much would it take to do my work and how much to pay me so it is quite violent to talk about it.
Another solution is the one of more attribution but the cofounders think it makes more sense to leave the sales guys represent the face of the company in public (articles, documents or competitions) so he takes the merits.
Even if we fail I would have enjoyed the ride but I would like to find a solution before blowing everything up. I’ve also worked hundreds of hours on it and it would be really frustrating to throw all that time away.
I greatly appreciate your time and advice on this, even if you link to similar situations that can help.
This sounds more like a bunch of friends who are afraid to tell their other friends that they are not needed in the team. I'm sure you realized already how bad idea it was to go 20% each with the administration guy (seriously?) the financial guy (not needed either), not to mention two sales guys before you even have something to sell.
This is why it's not necessarily a good idea to start a company with your friends. They might not have the skills needed. From the outside its totally obvious that this team will not work at all, you have to get rid of the people not needed in a startup. Find out who is the better sales guy, and fire everybody else.
My other thought is that maybe you could work less if you could let go of a few tasks. Entrepreneurs tend to be control freaks, I don't know if it's the case with you, but I usually end up doing everything myself, and sometimes it's mainly my fault. Are you absolutely sure that it was not your subconscious decision to end up with all the marketing, development, design, and biz-dev tasks?