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The dark side of running a business that no-one tells you

The dark side of running a business that no-one tells you

When you first start a business, many of us don't have a manual, any formal training and are generally learning as we go. This style of taking a business from startup to fully fledged successful business, comes with many hurdles - some that are too large to overcome.

When I started out, I had a business partner. Basically, she was administration while I was marketing, and slowly but surely I had to become her marketing teacher. I had no choice. We were already in bed with each other - so to speak. Not only was I spending hours doing the work, I was also having to spend many more teaching someone who at that point couldn't write, didn't understand any aspect of marketing other than how to put a promotional event on, and was looking for the easy life. 

1. No-one told me that having a partner meant that you needed to find someone on equal footing. 

The breakup needless to say, after only a year in business was brutal. Her marriage crumbled due to her having an affair at the time, and I gathered every ounce of strength and ensured that she was not only out of the business, but I would never have to see her again. 

Resilience is a funny thing. We all have the ability to be resilient, but many people don't draw on it near enough.

2. No matter how old you are, people will try and rip you off

I look back now and laugh, but at the time it wasn't funny. A big mortgage company (at the time) had teamed up with a man who had equally no morals and was later fodder for A Current Affair for the scrupulous business dealings ripping innocent people off for millions. He may have even done jail time. But for me, I was the unsuspecting marketing company that they charged a whole heap of advertising up to, and then of course, made the company go bankrupt as they continued to live the high life with their dodgy accounting practices. In my instance, I was a small business and I didn't have insurance for things like this, and the advertising was paid for by my company, then re-invoiced to the client. It didn't send me under but it gave me a very big scare, and took my life savings to ensure that the company get going.

3. The Mafia business meeting

Now this was only 4 or 5 years back, so by this time I was a much more accomplished business person. The client was happy with the work that his son had asked us to do, but didn't want to pay. In writing, he said he was happy as well as verbally. No questions there. He asked to meet. It wasn't such a big amount, maybe on $10,000, but the man came to Atlanta Technology Village, (he was an Australian businessman from Italian decent), and I had a young Maikayla Desjardins in the meeting with me as she was the account manager, and it went pear shaped. He said something along the lines of not wanting to pay for it, because "he can" and then chuckled. I then said, "I will pass it onto the lawyers, thank you for your time". This was his cue. He started talking really loud about how he would get his big high flying lawyers onto us and they would eat us alive. I mean, it was just $10,000 that I was not letting a bully, who had intimidated me and my colleague get away with it. If we were men, would that have happened? I don't think so!

4. Dodgy promotions companies

Sorry to all the great promotions companies, of which there are many incredible one's that we work with... But...We provided artwork on behalf of a client to promotional company and in writing and during conversations they knew that they would be billing and delivering to the client direct some umbrellas. Their terms were 50% upfront and 50% on delivery. They were liaising with the client and on all communications the client was copied in. The client didn't pay them the 50% before, and they still delivered. They also didn't pay when delivered, but still kept the products there. Then after some time when the client didn't pay ( and subsequently went into liquidation), they started chasing us for the money. Let me repeat, "We are just artwork suppliers" and if we were doing through our company we would have taken an agency fee on the product. The company was no longer a client but needed our assistance in getting the artwork there. The promotional products company I am talking about is Dynamic Gifts. They of course harassed us, threatened us and so on. Now we are going to mediation, another scare tactic on their behalf. What a joke that this can even occur! But it is a game. Now, more than 200 companies in Australia will never use Dynamic Gifts and the word of mouth from my team and the stories I will write to ensure that others don't get caught out with wasting time on something so stupid and so wrong, will be a lot more expensive to them than their endeavour to bully.

There are other "DARK" stories, and over time I will share them. Being an entrepreneur isn't all fun and games. There are bad people out there and you just need to know how to deal with it. There are no books that tell you how to deal with any of these situations. All we can do is learn to share our stories.

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comment ( 1 )
  • Phi Le
    Phi Le
    05 Jul 2018

    Happy to learn from your practical experiences Mellissah. People think starting up a business from scratch is easy and rewarding as they only see a part of the story. Your valuable share gives youngsters a cruel reality of starting up.