How Do I Quit My Own Startup?

"This startup is a good deal for everyone but me! How do I put my 2 weeks in when I'm the person who owns or runs this thing?"

September 25th, 2019   |    By: Wil Schroter

For some Founders, their "job" at their startup isn't necessarily something they want to keep.

There can be a ton of factors at play, whether it's "I can't afford to do this any longer" or "I'm more passionate about something else."

No matter what the reason, it is, in fact, possible to quit our own startup. There are just some creative ways we need to approach it.

If I quit, who runs this thing?

Depending on the size of the company, there may be quite a few people who are interested in our jobs.

For example, if it's a 10 person company that's doing OK (not great), our CEO job might be something we're totally over but someone else in the company may find it as an incredible opportunity to be the CEO for once.

That same opportunity may come from the outside world, where someone else with fresh legs would jump at the chance to be the CEO. Remember, most people aren't getting CEO opportunities daily, so this is a job search like any other.

I still need money. What happens there?

If we quit, we need to do so with the intention that we're going to replace that income somewhere else.

Which is often a job. If we own the whole company and there is enough money to pay a CEO salary AND a distribution back to us — wonderful. But that's often not the case.

We have to be pragmatic in realizing that if we aren't going to contribute to the company on a go-forward basis, the company probably can't afford to pay us. In that case, we have to rely on the value of our equity as the payoff.

Can anyone prevent me from quitting?

Nope.

We may have some investors that get really upset about it, but in fact, no one can prevent us from walking out the door.

We may have some provisions in our contracts that create some monetary loss (like unvested stock) but beyond that, we're an at-will employee like anyone else.

If it's time to hand ourselves our walking papers, we can absolutely do it. We just need to look at our role like an employment decision where one person steps out, and another person gets recruited back in.

In Case You Missed It

Can I Have a Boss Again? (podcast). As Founders, what happens we're forced into going back to reporting to someone else now that we've tasted the freedom of Founderhood? Wil & Ryan break it down.

When Should Someone Else Run My Company? It's not hard to imagine many startup Founder/CEOs are sitting around wondering "Shouldn't someone else more qualified be better at this job?" The answer is "Yes" — and yet you should probably be the one doing it anyway.

I’m Burnt Out. What Do I Do? When we hit a point of burn out and ignore it, the problem only gets much worse. Let’s take a look at what Founders do to deal with burnout head on.

About the Author

Wil Schroter

Wil Schroter is the Founder + CEO @ Startups.com, a startup platform that includes BizplanClarity, Fundable, Launchrock, and Zirtual.  He started his first company at age 19 which grew to over $700 million in billings within 5 years (despite his involvement).  After that he launched 8 more companies, the last 3 venture backed, to refine his learning of what not to do.  He's a seasoned expert at starting companies and a total amateur at everything else.

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