Is sticking with your day job a cardinal sin?

If you are attempting to raise funds with an angel investor, they want to see commitment.  It is expected that founders are going to be working full time.  Quitting the day job to work for the start-up is clichéd, because it’s expected, and because it sends a message to the investors.  Also because so many people do it.  The commitment of anyone not working full time for the start-up is questioned.  This may or may not really be the case, but that is the perception.

If anyone on the team has a wife, a kid, or a house they most likely cannot quit the day job.   That steady income is necessary for them because other people are counting on them.  This is going to put that team member at odds with investors.  If you’re in the position of wanting to go from amateur to professional, careful consider the outside commitments of the team members, including yourself.

This perception may be unfair.  It may even be hypocritical if the investor is also married, has kids or a house; doubly hypocritical if they also started a company while working at another.  But it’s a perception that has to be managed.

As a co-founder of a company think really hard about the position you give to team members.  If your other co-founder is not quitting their day job, consider the message that would send to the investors.  Maybe not bringing them into the meeting is a better idea then bringing them along.  Instead referring to them as a ‘contractor’ and then paying them at a later point with a % of ownership might send a message the investors are expecting to receive   The team member may lose the perception of having the ‘co-founder’ title…  But if it gets the deal done it might be worth it.

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