Business partnership mistakes and lessons

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2016 couldn't end quick enough for me...

In the beginning....

4 years ago I met a guy, (lets call him Bob) who impressed the hell out of me with his passion for an industry I was to spend the next 4 years in, screen printing.

Bob at the time came across as the penultimate guru in the field of screen printing even though he was relatively young. He oozed passion for the industry. He ate, drank and dreamed screen printing every day. When I asked around the industry about Bob they all said he was exceptionally knowledgeable in the field.
At the time I was looking for a business opportunity so in my clamour for something to get my teeth into, I brought into Bobs expertise.
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My background is operations management specialising in lean management and I had done quite well selling my skills in making busineses more profitable through efficiency.
I'd been on the 6 figure salary running businesses so I knew I could handle everything else if he handled production.
I believed that we had all the areas covered with him running production and me running the books and gettting hands on when required.
So thinking I had a 8th dan black belt in my new found industry on my team I decided to bankroll our business and chucked in $50k.......my first mistake.
He was true to his word in the beginning and he worked really hard to get us up and running. 
We ran it lean using every trick in the book and did long hours to ensure we kept our costs low.
We called oursleves the industry "hyenas" because if we found out someone in the industry was going out of business or we could leverage a situation we would go for the jugular.
Cold, callous and unfortunately true.

Starting to turn sour...

Then things started to go a rye approximately 18 months in when the questions about our finances became more forced.
Can we do more cashies? 
Can we do deals with suppliers and aquaintences?
Can we hide some of my taxable income from my ex-wife?
Why isnt there enough cashflow (even though I gave fortnightly cashflow reports)?
So what do you do for your wage?
After confronting Bob and his girlfriend at the time and laying all the cards on the table it was clear that I was taking hits/paycuts to ensure we were still financial.
The issue was quickly swept under the carpet and we proceeded as though nothing was amiss....second mistake.

We continued for another 2 years and during this whole time I realised how selfish he really was.
He never once showed me how to run the machines, (we brought another one by then), how to develop film, how to do basic screen printing jobs. He was always too busy, or it was too technical or the best one was that it was beyond my technical expertise. All in all I knew he was protecting his job and position but never called him on it....second mistake.

It was long before the questions started again about how I was handling the finances.
His exwife was putting the squeeze on him so he was putting the squeeze on me to either may him more or take another hit.
When that wasnt forthcoming he started making claims about going it alone and that he would be better off by himself, he was working twice as hard as everyone ie me, was doing sales, operations and handling clients so we took on more staff.
Things didnt improve at all, in fact it became worse, he started coming in later, clients were getting upset, staff were standing around for hours on some cases because he was late getting in.

Halfway through 2016 things deteriorated further when I let a few staff go to keep costs down. 
He really started to show his colours then, upset all the time, had a few hissy fits and it didnt get much better.
Clients were starting to drop off, money was getting tight and the bills were starting to pile up...and still I hung on to some vain hope that he would find his mojo he had when he first started....third mistake.
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Through out the 4 years I was working longer hours and paying myself $300.00 a week less than him.
By this stage the business owed me $90k with the second machine acquisition and some investments in material supply direct from China...cost cutting initiatives driven by me in a vain attempt to diversify and suppliment income.

The end is nigh...

In April of this year Bob basically told me he had had enough and that he was walking away washing his hands of the last 4 years.
Long story short he walked out I still haven't seen the $90k and I scrambled to find a way to carry on.
3 months it took to clean up the mess, selling the machinery for what I brought them for thank goodness and have moved on from this fiasco.

One could say that I was very bitterly disappointed was an understatement but unbelievably it wasnt so much in the failed business, or how bad Bob treated me, or even how much money I have lost!!
My biggest disappointment and regret is that I allowed this situation to get out of hand.
Being of sound body and mind I allowed someone to manipulate me to the point where I was totally reliant on him and his technical skills that I thought I would not survive without him.
I hate to say it and I mean no disrespect to abuse victims but thats how I feel post this episode.
In an relationship albeit a business one, I allowed someone else to to dictate terms and make me feel almost powerless.

Business partnership mistakes

So herein lies two lessons for you people.
1- Do your homework:
Going into business partnerships is just like any other relationship, you have to go in eyes wide open. Before you do anything understand what your capabilities are and put them on the table.
Do your homework, put together a business plan proper, treat it like your nuptials because you're about to go all in.
2- Invest in self (self awareness)
Work on it every day by reading, learning growing as a person constantly.
You are your biggest critic bar none so if you've always set your bar/expectations high then you know you're going to get the ROI you so deserve.
You know what you're capable of so if you slacken off then you only have yourself to blame.

I didnt in this case so unfortunately one could say I got what I deserved!!
Lesson learnt and even at the right old age of 47 I'm still young enough to pick my self up dust off the self pity cobwebs and move on.

New begiinings...

Ive still got my health, my family and now a new online business opportunity which I'm really excited about and the biggest reason for that is?
I get to invest in myself....

Cheers

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