Hello, I am hoping for some business advice about formalizing a business agreement and hopefully some help to clarify some confusions I have. My location is in Australia, so all dollar amounts I mention are in Australian dollars. I am a software engineer, with 15 years commercial experience. For the past 18 months I have been working with two other parties (three people, in two separate parties), there was an informal arrangement that we would be starting up a new entity together and that we would be equal partners in that entity. It was an arrangement that was never formalized and has since been replaced with a new proposal that is close to being formalized. I have been working at a reduced wage, about $40,000 p.a. I am a well rounded system architect, database designer and web application developer... basically I am competent in architecting and building everything from the database to the front end, setting up and manage servers etc. etc. So, it is entirely possible for me to find myself a $100,000+ p.a. wage in the corporate world. The other two parties have an existing business... which has been operating for 5 or so years. One party has some skills using Excel and basic skills with Access databases, the other party has basically zero skill with software. The industry we work in is the events industry, specifically registration and ticketing... there is a heavy component of software involved, registration websites, onsite ticketing systems, lead tracking systems... all systems are built by me. They barely get involved with testing... yet if anything goes wrong with the system there are very serious consequences, there's no second chance to run an event and leads being captured are potentially worth millions of dollars to exhibitors. In simple terms, the proposal being put on the table is this: 1. The business is valued at about $300,000 2. We will become equal partners 3. I will be expected to pay my share of the business value to "buy in"... i.e. $100,000 4. I am not expected to pay my share up-front, my payment will come in the form of a reduced wage over a period of 36 months (three years) 5. My ownership of the company will come in the form of vested shares... which will be actualized every 12 months, one third of my share each 12 months, in other words I will own my third of the company after 36 months So, without taking GST (goods and services tax) into account, my reduced wage will be about $3,500 per month, where-as the other two parties will be on $6,000 per month. In some ways it seems like a fair arrangement... but I am not feeling comfortable for a few reasons. Although I value the work of the other two parties, I feel that the worth and potential of my work exceeds theirs. I do understand that things aren't always fair and there has to be some give and take, but in all honesty my work is so very much more complex and mentally taxing AND is the major component for potential growth. For example I am about to begin development of a system that will replace a third party system that cost the business $120,000 last year... obviously there is a cost to my development so it's not quite right to say I will have saved $120,000 p.a.... but it will certainly be at least $80,000 p.a. I think that is one of my confusions and questions... even though we might be equal owners of a business is there a need for us all to draw the same income? I think I might feel more comfortable with the proposal if I was drawing a salary that is more commensurate to the complexity and worth of my input. Having worked at a reduced salary already for 18 months I wonder why that isn't taken into account when drawing up the agreement now... for example shouldn't the proposal take that into account with perhaps some of my "buy in" already paid off... or perhaps immediate ownership of some shares rather than having to wait yet another 12 months. Part of me is thinking I should walk away from this venture and head into the corporate world again where I can draw on the order of triple the salary. Oh, I'm in my late thirties... with little savings and no investments of any worth... which obviously impacts my thinking somewhat. I am renting, with my girlfriend... which I can afford on the reduced salary, but if something happened and I had to survive on my own it would be difficult. If you have any advice about any aspect I would appreciate it so much, I'm really a bit stuck within myself... I don't want to throw away an opportunity, but I don't want to make an obvious mistake either!