I am a student and have worked in a 3-person team on a project for some time now. In this team, I have all IT roles (but mostly programming), and am currently having a conflict with a person who has all of the business+management roles. This project used to take me around 2 hours a week, however we have just started the main phase of the project, and that is making and programming the prototype. On the last meeting we had, we discussed what we had done so far and the person in conflict with me thought I hadn't done enough. I had spent about 4 hours on the project in the 2 weeks prior, which he judged as not being enough. I asked him what he sees as enough, and he said that he would appreciate about 2-3 hours per day. Unfortunately, this came at a time of much work to do, and right before a holiday. I only have about 3-5 hours of free time a day and a reduction of 2 hours would be very noticeable.

All three of us are underage (though over 15) and the reward would be a stake (1/3) in a newly created company. We would likely not receive a salary. The company also likely won't be profitable until around 2 years later.

I would like not to have to quit this team, as I will be studying with this person for years. I have talked to him, and he just says that he doesn't have much free time either. What are my options? I do not have other job offers at my age.

  • What country is this? I think in the US you need to be an adult to create a company.
    – sf02
    Oct 31 '19 at 17:07
  • 2
    @sf02 This is in Europe (I don't want to disclose the country) and either it's allowed or the parents would be listed as the owners until we would be 18 years old. We would have to find a lawyer, of course.
    – soanon8823
    Oct 31 '19 at 17:21

Before going any further, I suggest that the three of you talk about your expectations for how much time (per week or per month) each of you will put into this project. If you can't come to an agreement on this, there's not much point in going further.

Next figure out what work needs to be done. Divide the work into small tasks, and come up with a time estimate for each task. For each task, identify who has the skills to do it. Based on the hours per week that you've agreed on, calculate how many weeks the task will take.

Figure out which tasks depend on each other. (For example, Mary can't build the web page until Joe has designed it.)

Using all of this information, put together a schedule of who will do what, and by when. Now you've got a project plan.

Meet regularly as a team to review your project plan, and see what changes need to be made. Some tasks will take longer than estimated; that's the nature of projects.

  • 1
    Thanks for that. We do actually have a plan on who does what and when, but the "manager" estimates the timeframes and is way off on his estimations. I'll try to talk with him and ask that we divide the work more and that he involves us with the time estimation.
    – soanon8823
    Oct 31 '19 at 18:09
  • @soanon8823, it's good that you are learning early the pitfalls of managers providing work estimates
    – cdkMoose
    Nov 1 '19 at 16:23

You have to decide... either this is serious, or it is not.

If this is not serious, then 2-3 hours per day is entirely unreasonable. This is the time to try to either back out of the project or convince the person you're in conflict with to downshift it.

If this is serious, and you expect it to be a meaningful source of income in the future, then 2-3 hours per day is not unreasonable. That would mean deciding that you're putting in extra hours now, with real cost to you, in order to make this thing happen. It also means that you're putting in a serious investment, and you need to make sure that it's worth it. It means being sure that the business management guy is putting in an appropriate level of effort on his end, that you have actual legal guarantees that no one's going to just run off with your work, that the product you're producing is actually likely to pay off meaningfully, and so forth. I would not generally expect that three underaged kids working together on a project would produce something that would have the level of long-term payoff that would warrant this. Still, if you have strong reason to believe that yours will, then yes. Significant long-term monetary payoff is the sort of thing that does call for real sacrifices in the short term.

  • This is exactly what I'm worried about: it not being worth it. I'll talk out the expectations with the others and we'll talk about the probability of it ever being profitable.
    – soanon8823
    Oct 31 '19 at 18:11
  • @soanon8823 I would highly suggest you read "The dip" by Seth Godin, small book but important takeaways especially in the stage of the project you re in and for your (young) age.
    – Leon
    Nov 1 '19 at 12:00

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