My brother has a tech start up idea, he has offered me a position on his venture doing product management, and is willing to double my current salary on the bases that I relocate to North America and become his right hand man after getting funding. He has told me that he is looking for someone to potentially become the COO of the tech start up that he can trust and has given me till the weekend to think about it. I am not sure if I should take it up.

Pros of working for my brother:

  • Double the salary
  • Relocate to N. America, become more independent and better living conditions than the UK etc

Cons of working for my brother:

  • I don't know if we will work well together, he is a very head strong character. We have fallen out in the past over pieces of work.
  • He is a family member, I have worked with family members in the past and they usually end up expecting you to be more committed than an ordinary employee to the point that it becomes overbearing.
  • He hasn't yet got start up funding, but is expecting me to work weekends/my spare time for free to show how committed I am. So, I am currently thinking that he will probably expect me to be a workaholic once employed not respecting work/life balance.

What are the pros and cons of working for a family member?

  • Right now this is a very broad question, you may want to consider focusing it a bit more on a generalized question- pro's and con's of working for family, for instance. And also, "...is expecting me to work weekends/my spare time for free to show how committed I am." You can work for money, you can work for equity, but don't work for free. – MackM Jan 4 '17 at 20:56
  • @MackM. yeah you are right, I am not sure how to make it more concise without describing the situation. I guess what I am trying to say, does family and business mix healthily? – bobo2000 Jan 4 '17 at 20:59
  • Some family businesses have worked wonders and been great for the people involved; some have ended with family members killing each other. Ultimately the same rules apply: do you trust them, do you have reason to trust them in a work/business setting (money), do you have reason to believe they can deliver on their promises, what are the risks, what is your past relevant experience with this person, what experience do they have that would indicate they would be successful, etc. From the sounds of it they want a co-founder, but aren't offering equity, and that's usually a serious problem. – BrianH Jan 4 '17 at 21:10
  • He is willing to offer equity (plus salary when funded) - sweat equity which will be 3%, I am not interested in equity either way, since seeing a return would probably be unlikely for most start ups. – bobo2000 Jan 4 '17 at 21:14
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    @JoeStrazzere The phrase "unique challenges" is precisely how I see it. It COULD work, but it's the exception (in my observation and experience) rather than the rule. – Chris E Jan 4 '17 at 21:56

Forget "family" for a moment.

Would you do this if it were someone else? Would you actually work for free on the vague promise of a doubled salary?

This isn't an advice site, per se. But mine is that you shouldn't touch this with a 10-foot pole. Look at your own list of cons.

I think you already know that it wouldn't work out well and are hoping for some validation. If so, have mine.

I love my family but I wouldn't work for them for any amount. It muddy's the water and compromises both relationships (professional and personal). I had my brother work for me one time about 25 years ago, in sales. It changed how we saw each other because our roles had changed.

Lastly, I honestly believe you're being used. It's very common with startups with the lofty promises with no basis for them. Why you? Is it because you're the best or because he can get something from you that he couldn't from someone local, like free labor?

  • Thanks, yeah I was looking for advice, seems like a big decision for me. He says he wants to help me improve my quality of life, and has told me that he is doing me a 'favour' given that I only have 14 months project management experience by giving me the salary of somebody senior. That alone basically puts me off, because right now I feel as though it will be hanging over my head and would never feel like an equal. At the same time I am not sure if I am being cynical by assuming that may happen. No I wouldn't work for equity - i.e. free, I have told him this already. – bobo2000 Jan 4 '17 at 21:11
  • What happened with your brother our of interest? – bobo2000 Jan 4 '17 at 21:20
  • I had to let him go because he wasn't working. Ironically, it's turned out to be a pattern in his life. As to your brother, you won't be an equal, period. He's made that perfectly clear. He's an older brother, isn't he? – Chris E Jan 4 '17 at 21:34
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    @bobo2000 It's not so much the fact that he currently has or hasn't the money that is relevant here: he explicitely expressed that if he had it, he would pay you twice as more than you deserve, and that's just bad as a business owner. This simple claim makes it difficult for anyone to believe him. The "use that to control me" hypothesis is also very likely. You aren't given a job out of a favor, brother or not: you are given a job and keep it because you deserve it and produce some value. Being paid should never be a favor. Don't forget that. – ereOn Jan 4 '17 at 22:34
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    @ereOn yeah I have told him that to be honest, I am not sure if it is a good idea to join any company on the bases of it as a favour since what you bring to the table will never be respected. – bobo2000 Jan 4 '17 at 22:41

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