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

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.
Mellissah Smith is a serial entrepreneur and business leader with more than 20 years' experience in marketing.
Join us on social media
Mellissah Smith

Mellissah Smith is a marketing expert, author, writer, public speaker and technology innovator. Having worked with more than 300 companies across technology, medical device, professional services, manufacturing, logistics, finance and health industries, Mellissah has a well-established reputation as an experienced marketing professional with more than 20 years experience. As the founder and managing director of Marketing Eye, she has taken the company from startup to a multi-million dollar enterprise with offices in Australia and the US. Mellissah is also the Editor in Chief of Marketing Eye Magazine, a quarterly magazine that cover marketing, entrepreneurship, travel, health and wellbeing. #mellissah #marketingeye

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter all the required information, indicated by an asterisk (*). HTML code is not allowed.

Contact Us

Marketing Eye
  • Our addresses:
    Marketing Eye Level 4, 134 William Street, Woolloomooloo, NSW 2011
    Level 4, 492 St Kilda Road, Melbourne, VIC 3004AU
    Central Plaza, Level 21, 345 Queen Street, Brisbane, QLD 4000
  • 1300 300 080
Contact Form

Connect with Us

Latest Marketing Eye Tweets

  • Ahh yes! Pole position to Amal Clooney who she may have met a few times only yet not all her cast that she sees dai… https://t.co/9ibcyWtLWt

  • @smh A wannabe tv star

  • RT @MiscreantMe: I haven't turned the t.v on today. Can someone please tell me whether the reverend from the #RoyalWedding has finished h…

  • Start every day with a positive outlook, a vision, and tenacity to follow the day through with your goal in mind. #happiness

  • If you are a sponge for anything and everything new in marketing and have a strong desire to be a phenomenal market… https://t.co/b9khK2NjHp

  • Sunday business meeting with… https://t.co/P8xCpTGaLU

  • If you are looking to take your marketing career to the next level, and want to work with a mentor who is super pas… https://t.co/xgSPzMhUjj