Bad Business Partners
A bad business partner can come in all forms. From the partner who wants you to do all of the work. To the partner who has an ulterior motive, to the partner who makes your life miserable. Running a business takes a lot of time, energy and commitment. It also takes a certain amount of financial investment. Going into business with someone is similar to a marriage.
The business world is littered with stories about bad business partners. I came very close to a couple of those myself. I had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of my own money working 2 jobs to start a business. I was incredibly naive and felt like I needed some help. Running a manufacturing business is very hard for one person to handle on their own.
Don’t Sign a Contract on a Cocktail Napkin
So, when I ran into someone who claimed to be able to finally get my business off the ground in a big way, it sounded promising. I wasn’t an expert in signing contracts. So when we met at a bar over a couple of drinks, a simple partnership agreement written on a cocktail napkin didn’t sound unusual. But when my friend read it the next day, he quickly asked for the guy’s phone number. The contract was very one sided and my friend was none too happy over how he was trying to take advantage of me. Let’s just say my friend has a few connections. I don’t want to know. But that partnership was over before it began and I never heard from the guy again.
Really Bad Business Partner
You would think I would have learned a lesson about contracts, but a year later I was still plodding along with my business and struggling to get it off the ground. So, when a friend of mine mentioned a marketing “guru” she worked with, I really checked it out. He had worked with some very big celebrities on their product lines and it all seemed legit.
I met with the so called “marketing guru” and it looked good on paper. He gave me a 25 page contract which looked like a marketing agreement. I didn’t think he would be a partner as much as a marketing consultant. Hiring an attorney to read the contract was going to cost more than I had at the moment. So I signed it. You can probably guess that it was a deal with the devil.
Right after signing the contract he started demanding that I send all of my inventory to him. His demeanor changed completely and he made my life hell. It turns out that I wasn’t the first person to cross his path. He had defrauded numerous business owners across the country. I finally had to hire an attorney to get out of the contract and it kept my product off the market for months.
I have to say that as bad as this guy was, he turned out to be a serendipitous twist of good luck in the story of my product. I made contact with someone who turned out to be an incredibly ethical guy, and the best patent agent on the planet, who was also scammed by “dirtbag”, as we call him.
To this day, if you hand me a contract, odds are that I won’t ever sign it. I’ve worked with distributors in 25 countries for years and have only signed one contract. That was with a distributor who sold about 100,000 units of my product in one month. And even then, we drew up a very simple one page contract in plain English. When I work as a motivational speaker I also have a very simple one page contract that has been signed by many Fortune 500 companies.
There are usually red flag signs that you shouldn’t go into business with someone. A perfect business partnership isn’t always easy and shouldn’t be rushed into. Here are some bad business partner stories from other business owners:
Business Partner Who Doesn’t Give 100%
I met my first business partner for a digital marketing business through a
Facebook Messenger chat. He was promoting his blog and I told him about my
blog, then we decided to grab lunch and we hit it off, initially. After
deciding we had unique talents that would compliment the other well, we
started the marketing business.
The major difference is when I commit to
something, I’m all in. You’re getting 100% of my energy, focus, and
attention. Whereas he had a 9-5 job and another commitment at night that
caused immediate problems. Not only that, he’d go out to dinners and
parties, plus the week-long vacation he took when he was already behind,
which infuriated me. I was bringing in significantly more business, doing
more fulfillment, and leading the strategy. But the profits were split
50/50. Talk about communism.
Eventually, we both felt the giant elephant in
the room of unfairness, but continued on. That is until one Monday morning
he sent me a 5,000 word email out of the blue explaining why he’s quitting.
He basically said he had some personal problems going on, too much on his
plate, and was tired of being constantly overwhelmed. It worked out for the
best as I bought him out and started my own digital marketing agency. We
now have served clients across the US, Europe, and Asia. It’s been the
Business Partner Spouse
This is one for the record book. My bad business partner was my husband. We had separate businesses. Then he thought it would be a good idea to merge them together. In retrospect I see that was a huge mistake. It started out simple enough with him taking small amounts from the business and then it started being larger amounts. Then he started lying to customers about their deliveries to buy time while he waited for the next sale to clear to cover the previous debt he racked up.
Eventually I put my foot down and guess what? He split. Locked me out of the website and bank accounts. We are awaiting our court date to settle the business and our marriage.
Roll Ice Cream
Get a Business Partner With the Same Passion
I have been a business owner for over 10 years now and have met and made business with different people who have different attitudes and perceptions in life.
I’ve had multiple experiences with people I tried to collaborate with but ended up doing things alone. When I was starting with my business, I met a person through a common friend who was also interested in the business I was trying to establish. We met and had a business meeting and finally agreed on working together to bring our dreams to life. As months passed by, I realized that I was the only one who was actually doing everything. From following up with clients to doing all of the paperwork. I realized that he was not as passionate as I was.
It is important that you share the same values and passion with the person you are trying to build your business with. I gave it a couple of months before I finally decided to let go of the arrangement. I bought his share of the company and I am now working on it alone with the help of my employees, of course. Right now, I can say that my business is thriving. I work with people who are just as passionate as I am.
Business Partner Mistakes
Like every entrepreneur, I had a couple of…let’s just say unfortunate business ventures before I was able to build my successful one. A friend I met in college and I wanted to go into business together (with an admittedly terrible idea) and as you do, we were going to go in 50-50. Equal partners, equal work, equal shares of the money, all that. A very idealistic arrangement that only two 20 year olds can put together.
To the surprise of no one, he let me put in my share of the money and all the work hours I was humanly able to dedicate, but his money was always “coming”. It was always “on its way”, he was always “closing the deal”. Never seemed too keen on actual work, either. He’d arrive late and leave at 5, and I’d be there until late at night.
Looking back, I should have gotten the heck out way sooner, but I was young and enthusiastic and we were friends. Of course, I ended up taking the loss and losing the money, the hours of work, and the friend. But that’s the kind of stupid mistake you make when you’re at that age. It’s not super obvious to me that he was not at all the entrepreneur “type”, because he wanted none of the work and all of the glory. So I consider it a learning opportunity. Never made that mistake again.