Am I wrong for breaking a promise to join my friend's start-up?

Asked by Anonymous - 2 weeks ago

This is a tricky one but I want to know what you guys think. A friend from uni told me about an idea he had for a startup last year. He was initially very secretive about it but eventually gave me the full picture and I think it's actually really interesting. Around Christmas time he officially asked me to join as co-founder. I'm a software engineer, he's a business consultant type so without me there's really nobody to build the app. I thought about it for a few weeks and told him in January I'm ready to quit my job and join him full-time. That means foregoing salary until we manage to raise money (although even then it's probably going to be a massive paycut) With all this coronavirus thing and the economy I'm getting cold feet and I want to tell him I'm not ready to quit my job at the moment. He's handed in his notice already but I haven't. Is it really bad if I tell him now that I can't follow-through on my commitment? Or maybe I'm going to miss out on an opportunity for a lifetime?

2 Answers

Mahad Samatar - 1 week ago

I fully agree with the response below. It would be completely unreasonable for him to expect you to join given how quickly the entire economic envrironment has changed in the last 4 weeks. Unless you're joining a start-up that is directly taking advantage of coronavirus you shouldn't be leaving your job. 

0 points

Hal G - 1 week ago

Hey Anon. There seems to be two parts to your question: A) You are unsure if you should take this opportunity given the current climate and B) You are worried about breaking your promise to your friend. Lets address one thing first, I implore you to look at your situation as objectively as possible or else you'll run the risk of letting your emotions, namely guilt, muddle your thoughts. There is a lot at risk here (your livelihood!) and you'll need to have clarity to come to the right conclusions. If it helps I think you should think about the situation except imagine that the cofounder is some random, but competent, person and not a friend. Would you still be unsure about your decision to join? Is the opporunity/idea, in and of itself, worth taking the risk for?

I think its completely fair (and logical) that, given the global situation, you are less confident with your decision to join. Your friends sacrifice has nothing to do with yours. He is willing to take the risk because he, presumably, deeply believes in his vision and is willing to dedicate his time and resources to it, if thats not something you can ask of yourself then don't join. Also, aside from everything else, you would be doing a huge disservice to your friend if you joined out of your fear of disappointing him.

Ultimately, if after some contemplation you are still unsure about joining than you should express your concerns with your friend.

Hope this was helpful!

4 points