Breakfast this morning started off like I was sitting across the table from two angry people I barely knew. I've met with customers on troubled projects who were much less upset than these guys, my business partners. My first thoughts were that we shouldn't have done this in a public place.
I let them talk for a while, and then tried to reassure them that I'm still the same guy they've worked with for over five years. I've taught them everything I know, I've tried to mentor them, teach them about consulting, etc. I haven't suddenly changed and I'm not trying to rob them blind.
Even after our meeting, I really don't know what they're thinking, other than:
- They want the complete 33% discount mentioned earlier (related to how the taxes will be handled).
- They want the ROI to be calculated at 18 months, which would now be roughly twelve months after I leave next April.
- They want the 50/50 payout.
In short, they don't want to negotiate on these points at all.
By the end of the breakfast these two partners seemed much more comfortable with me again, and I told them I'd try to think of something to do, but at this point all we could do is agree to disagree. I told them they had to be willing to compromise somewhere, or this just wasn't going to work, I couldn't agree with their offer.
As I think about everything tonight as I write this entry, I'm reminded of my lawyer's advice: As long as the company is still making a lot of money and nobody is quitting, just let this process go on as long as it takes. I talked to the partners specifically about whether anyone was talking about quitting, and they said no, so hopefully I'm still safe here.