Not sure if this is the right spot for this question, it is not about finances per se.

I have been developing a website/web app for over three years now, and in the beginning this was a small undertaking, the client paid a small fee to have the site/program built.

Since then, the company has become semi successful, making what I think are fairly good revenue most months. During the process, my monthly income for the site has been very modest, whether I work 60 hours per month or 10 hours per month. Without giving specific figures, I am paid most months what a professional developer would make in 5 - 10 hours (I have been a developer for 14 years and it is what I do for my day job).

Also, it is a frequent thing that I am often interrupted or expected to be on call weekends, and sometimes during vacations, late at night, etc.

I have never forced the issue, but I did development for less than what I would charge with the hopes that maybe it would pay off in the long run... perhaps a partnership deal or at least a percentage of the revenue. As I said, sometimes putting in 60 - 70 hours per month and getting paid market value of 10 - 5.

It has come to a point where I think I am going to have to leave the project, but just wondering if I am off base by thinking that I should be offered a good portion of ownership in the company or not.

  • I suggest that you ask the moderators to migrate this question to startups.SE where it is a much better fit. You can contact the moderators by clicking on flag below your question. – Dilip Sarwate Mar 26 '18 at 3:59
  • @DilipSarwate I don't think there is a startups.SE any more. It might be better on workplace.SE but I'm not sure if it would be too specific. For now I'll leave it here and see if it accumulates the normal 5 votes to close, as there's some connection to personal finance. – GS - Apologise to Monica Mar 26 '18 at 5:05
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    No equity agreement up front? I think your expectation is reasonable, but without an agreement you're just hoping for generosity. – Hart CO Mar 26 '18 at 5:17
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    From the sound of it you just have to renegotiate your operating terms. If a flat rate isn't worth your time anymore, that's fine as circumstances change. I'm not sure what your expectation is here but if I were you I'd just tell them you need $x per hour. I'd skip percentages of revenue or "equity" or anything complex. Just get paid for your work and be prepared to leave. I was in a similar situation, when I switched them to an hourly rate magically there was almost never an emergency. – quid Mar 26 '18 at 8:10
  • "I'm quitting and I'd like you to give me a bonus upon departure" is a remarkably weak negotiating position. Why don't you offer to stay on in exchange for this partnership? – Glen Pierce Mar 26 '18 at 14:13

I guess your question is better on the "workplace" site.

  • Your problem is simply a negotiating problem.

  • You've struck a very bad, incredibly bad, deal. (Sorry to hear it.)

You simply have two possibilities open to you:

  1. Totally renegotiate this deal.

  2. Accept totally that you made an incredibly bad deal. Politely tell the other party goodbye and never spend 1 second on the issue or person again. Take it as a life lesson. It is really hard to take things as a life lesson. Sometimes you just have to.

Sometimes all you have is "option 2".

Regarding (1) if you're having trouble with the language, just say this to the other party. "Hi Steve, now that the first three years is passed, I'll be wrapping up our contracting relationship. If you'd like to start a new contract on typical terms, let's discuss it. Please note that $50 an hour is the absolute minimum these days for this type of work." It's that simple!

Regarding getting a percentage of the profits, sure just state that you would want that. It leads to many issues though. The other party will just say "Oh, there were no profits this month. Big phone bill. Sorry." It rarely works out.

Again, I believe, this is really a "workplace" question. It's one of the most common questions there ("I am being paid really badly, how to negotiate more.")

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