This past summer I coached a longtime friend through creating her own business. I'd introduced an idea to her months before that she initially shot down but decided to revisit and execute. I saw the vision for her and wanted to offer her support and guide her as best I could. After all, I am a business coach. And because we had been friends for several decades I knew she could do this. After all David beat Goliath. I trusted her and I BELIEVED in her.
I took notes, made phone calls for her, made phone calls TO her, I amended contracts, I researched ingredients, researched business systems, researched business partnerships, gave my opinion and did what I could to see my friend win. What I DID NOT DO was clarify the terms of the support I gave. I know that business is business, but this was my friend. My children call her auntie and hers call me the same. I fully expected to be by her side and for her to be by mine as well. But as time went on I became unclear of where I was supposed to stand in her business so I attempted to clarify. And when I asked she got uncomfortable and disappeared.
I have been watching her and her company grow from afar still wishing her well since then. But a couple weeks ago I could no longer watch in silence. I reached out to share my disappointment in how things went down and how she treated her friend....ME. Her response was that she had many people helping and supporting her. She minimized my contribution like I'd done nothing out of the ordinary. And that hurt a lot. It took me some time to make sense of it all but I have come to realize a couple things.
- There are NO friends in business. Get your contracts and agreements together before you invest anything in anyone's business (money and time alike). That someone you're supporting may not feel obligated to support you back.
- Although you are running a business there are people in your life that will view your BUSINESS support as par for the course because they know you. The expectation will be that you support them without reciprocity or gratitude.
- People will take what they can get. It is your responsibility to make sure that they do not get YOU.
- Don't spend time on things that are not yielding anything for you. Business partnerships have to be a two-way street. A partnership should be mutually beneficial and if its not, it isn't a good deal or a partnership.
- Everything that is for you is for YOU. DO NOT fret over opportunities lost. If it didn't go as planned then the opportunity wasn't for you. What IS for you is for you and no man can take that away...that's biblical.
- Don't let one bad...maybe even horrible...experience stop you from trying again.
- Do not just believe people will do the right thing by you because you are friends. You have to set clear expectations UPFRONT so that everyone is one the same page. And if the don't like your expectations or you don't like yours, every one can go their own separate ways with no hard feelings.
I will admit that it sucks that people like this exist in the world. And it sucks even worse that they exist in YOUR world. But realize that every betrayal comes with a lesson. Pay attention and you can minimize your hurt personally and professionally. Protect yourself in business...even when you are dealing with "friends."
Akia, a Bronx native and the product of a single parent household that has not let the concrete jungle dim her light. Akia has acquired a ton of life lessons as a teen activist for the under-served and under heard. She went on to pursue a collegiate education at Wilmington University, among others, and majored in Business Management and Information Technology. Akia is also a certified Life Coach through The Coach Training Academy and is a member of the well-respected International Coach Federation.
Throughout her professional career Akia has held many executive positions including stock broker to high net-worth clients near NYC's Wall Street as well as the esteemed position of Certified Financial Planner (CFP). She has worked for many well-known and respected companies including Citibank, JPMorgan, Apple, Google and Microsoft.
She is also a very ambitious entrepreneur that has owned more than six companies and has served as a business coach, on a consulting basis, for four others. These unique experiences have helped shape Akia into the dynamic woman she is today. She's built this vision brick by brick and acquired life lessons along the way.
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