Pete, Roy and I have been friends and coworkers for about 10 years. Pete and Roy were friends prior to me starting at the job we now share. As our careers have progressed, both Pete and I have grown into management roles where we each manage separate sites for our company. At my location, I function as Roy’s manager. Unfortunately, Roy has never been able to grow into a position of higher responsibility due to not being a self-starter and due to health conditions that have limited him. Likely if Roy had not worked with/for me, he would have been fired long ago. About 2 years ago, Pete decided to hire Roy’s brother Rick at his location. Rick has done very well in the business, has become well respected, and lacks only experience to move up in the business. Both Pete and I consider Rick to nearly be our equal. Because we get along very well and see the need for our skills in ways that our business doesn’t address, Pete, Rick and I have decided to start our own business. At our first meeting to discuss the venture, the idea of Roy being part of the business was discussed, but Pete and I felt it was not a good idea. We also discussed that it would be difficult for Rick to tell his brother about the venture because it could cause discord in the family. The resolution to this was that Roy would not be part of it and each of us would have a 1/3 stake in the new business. At the next meeting between the 3 of us (Pete, Rick and I), the idea of Roy being involved was again brought up. Pete and Rick had discussed this further without my presence. They presented an idea where we would involve Roy as a partner with a 10% share, such that the rest of us would have a 30% share. Along with this, Roy would be one of the partners and be involved in the executive level of planning however would have little voting power due to his 10%. Later as we discussed start-up funds, Rick offered to cover Roy’s portion because he couldn’t afford it. There was more discussion about this, but basically Rick feels like he needs to include his brother and Pete feels like he needs to include him because of their friendship. Just today I spoke with Pete and asked him if Rick said that he wouldn’t be part of the business unless Roy could be a partner. Pete told me that Rick hadn’t said it, but felt like that is what he is thinking…. Here are my feelings on all of this: 1. Bluntly put, we are trying to start a for-profit business not a charity. I would like to take care of family and friends, but think we will be in a better position to do so with a strong business and equal partnership. 2. I think Pete may have been influenced by Rick’s apparent decision to not participate without his brother. If this was the case, then I would always feel like the 4th wheel in the partnership. 3. I feel like Roy would not be an equal partner, even at 10% share. He is nowhere near our equal in terms of skill, productivity or motivation. I would always be concerned with entrusting him to interact with clients and completing work as required. 4. On the flip side, although I am against including Roy in the business, I think not including him could have a bad result. Roy could be hurt badly by all of us. It could affect our friendships and further affect performance in his current job. All of us plan to maintain our current job indefinitely until this new venture is more developed. 5. I am concerned that this could progress to the point where I would have to make a decision to be part of it with Roy or not be part of it at all. I hope it doesn’t come to that and fear that if I decide not to be part of it our friendships could also be affected. So, how do I voice my concerns in a clear way that objectively addresses the issues? Are there other potential pros or cons that I am not seeing here? Should I stay involved if Pete and Rick decide that Roy needs to be involved? I am I making this a bigger deal than it is? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.