How Do I Quit My Own Startup or Side Hustle?

the great resignation

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.

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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.   You CAN quit our own startup.  We just need to look at our role like an employment decision where one person steps out, and another person gets recruited back in.

Ms. Career Girl

Ms. Career Girl was started in 2008 to help ambitious young professional women figure out who they are, what they want and how to get it.