I am a co-founder of a software startup in the B2B space. I am an engineer and have helped build much of our platform from the ground up. It's been 3+ years since we started doing this and we've raised seed funding + further funding as we've grown our customer base. When we began, we had some specific technology and found a sector of industry that would benefit and we've applied it there for the past few years.
At this point, I am pretty burnt out. I don't enjoy working in the market we are in, and I've taken significant pay cuts (no pay for 1 year, less than 50% market rate past 2), and my time gets split between customer implementations and support and helping manage the team.
My wife and I have made significant sacrifices for this job (location, home, etc.) and at this point I don't see the positives in staying longer. I have no doubt the company will continue to be successful in the future, but I don't really want to be a part of it. More than 50% of the time, I wake up and dread going to work in the morning.
If I didn't have to worry about losing relationships with people here, I would have probably left four months ago. I don't plan on being in management long term as I enjoy being an engineer, and I know I could get double my salary elsewhere and work in a space I care about. I also disagree with how some decisions are made and the company is run with my other cofounders, but that is more of a minor issue. I am torn because I really enjoy working with the people here, and I feel bad for leaving early. Does anyone have advice on how I could leave pseudo gracefully, or offer advice if they've ever been in my shoes?
I am so intertwined with the company since I helped start it, and I can't imagine leaving without burning bridges. I also know it would potentially cause people to lose morale, and I don't want to affect the company too much if possible.
EDIT: Thank you all for sharing your thoughts and advice on my situation. It has given us a lot to think about over the next few weeks. I appreciate all the thoughtful responses here, and maybe sometime in the future I'll circle back in a comment with an update.