You may want to study the various document templates on "sweat equity"
agreements. Here`s one site that gets into it pretty nicely:
"The Shareholders Agreement
You can do a search for "sweat equity" or "partnership agreements."
The main problem we see here on SuN, as well as across the
entrepreneurial spectrum, is exactly what you`re bringing up for
discussion. You start with friends, want to make a business, feel like
you should be equal, and things don`t work that way in reality.
One rule for you to keep in mind is that in most cases you can either
be friends with someone or you can be the boss. You rarely can be both.
That being said, partnerships can much more easily be harmonic with
friendships. A partner is one thing. An employee is very different.
I`ll never forget the very first time I had to deal with this, before
even becoming a professional musician. I was in highschool, had just
purchased my first keyboard, and because keyboards were sort of new
(electronic organ), I ended up in three bands at the same time.
One band was based on long-term friends, all of whom wanted to get into
rock and roll. Another was a sort of rag-tag practice band, and the
third was with some older guys who fully intended to go out and play
Within a matter of months it became apparent to me that I couldn`t
sustain all three bands, and had to go with the professional one. I had
the talent, and that band wasn`t interested in my friends. So I had to
tell those friends in the long-term buddy-band that I was leaving.
Talk about pissed! Jeez....!
Nobody wants a confrontation, excepting people who enjoy bar fights.
All of us would prefer to get along. But life doesn`t work that way.
Without being assertive, aggressive, and standing for your own best
interests, you`ll be run over by a truck every time.
You`re likely going to have to have a meeting and tell the friends who
aren`t contributing "enough" to be equal, that they won`t be able to be
partners. You may lose them as friends, but you may not. Often, over
time, people grow wiser and have a better perspective. Even so, it`s
going to be a hard situation.