After several cross continent phone calls, being interrogated about my experience in the film industry and theater, I was asked “Hey! Why don’t we go into business together?“. This offer came about after I made a few mild compliments on the acquaintance’s camera work. The deal would be that he would do all of the legwork when it came to filming whatever project we found, and I would do all of the promotional work on the front end. Everything, including expenses, was to be split 50/50. I was sure I could find all kinds of small projects for us to work on.
I flew to California to sign partnership papers that should have started our little business off on the right foot. I did in-depth research and made sure I had all of my ducks in a row before boarding that plane. I even had a lawyer to advise me. I spent four days in the company of my new business partner and was subjected to questionable behavior that should have sent me running in the other direction, but I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and ventured forward with our deal.
The first disappointment was on the day I was scheduled to arrive.
He was in Florida romancing a new girlfriend and wanted to stay there an extra day. Between my real job and my own life, and the fact that I had already booked the flight based on what he told me his schedule would be previously, there was no way for me to reschedule. So he met me at LAX having had no sleep, unshaven and smelling ripe. He was so tired that he was barely making sense when he spoke. Then I find out that he had broken the screen on his laptop and had shipped it off for repairs. All of the work we had discussed and video footage he had prepared for our meeting, was on his laptop.
On Day 2 of my trip he decided that instead of working on the business plan, he had to go surfing. So he left for the beach and stayed there until 8pm. Meanwhile I’m stuck in his dirty apartment with no transportation, because he insisted I wouldn’t need a car.
The biggest red flag was finding out that he didn’t own any camera equipment! Wouldn’t you think this would have been a big revelation to make before your future paycheck got on a plane and flew 3000 miles?! We would have to find some money for that. In the meantime we would be forced to rent or borrow whatever we needed. This was starting to feel extremely complicated!
By now, I was wondering where all of this money was going to come from.
Still, I signed the papers in front of a Notary and got on with it.
I arrived home and complained loudly of my experience to my husband. My husband told me to wait and see what was going to happen.
The first thing that happened was on the evening I arrived back home. My new business partner called me on the phone and when I answered I heard pitiful moans and tearful cries, “I don’t know what I’m going to do!” he exclaimed. My husband was sitting on the sofa across the room, sees my face, and mouths the question “What’s up?” Apparently, all of his distraction and avoidance in doing any work while I was in California with him was due to the fact that his new girlfriend, the one he was romancing til the nth hour in Florida before our business meeting, was on a trip with another man! In California! He was lamenting the demise of this relationship, that hadn’t even become a relationship yet. He had to tell me all of the gory details because he had no one else to talk to about it? Really? Um, we hardly knew each other personally and yet here he was spilling his guts to me about his sex life?
This is how the story went:
He went to a friend’s wedding 3 weeks prior to our business meeting. He met this woman there. They screwed that night. He came home and the two of them emailed each other for the next 2 weeks. This woman had also slept with another guy at the wedding the night before my business partner arrived there and this other man was who she was on her trip with in California at the moment.
Romantic, huh? (insert sarcasm here) I kind of doubt I’d be as devastated as he seemed to be over what was essentially a one night stand to this woman, but here he was in a puddle over it. He was devastated and stayed that way for another 2 weeks. Everyday the phone rang, I would grit my teeth when I saw his number on the Caller ID. I did not sign up to be someone’s therapist, but I did everything possible to try to get him through this.
Meanwhile I am pushing ahead with the business by myself, while he pisses and moans. I was making calls everyday. I traveled to Ecuador to check out the bird watching company and met with a financial adviser to get pointers on writing the business plan. I also set up, paid for and started designing a website for our little business.
Daily phone calls from him had me sitting through the new revelations of Alcoholics Anonymous and the endless romancing of the new girlfriend. Suddenly my new business partner was an alcoholic, a drug addict, self-medicated and had also been molested as a child. All of these new ailments were mysteriously discovered because his new girlfriend, the same woman from Florida, the same woman from the wedding party, the same woman on vacation with another man, was also an alcoholic, a drug addict, etc.
There were also the numerous ranting phone calls I endured when he needed to vent about his ex-wife that had cheated on him for 6 months, before telling him about it. Oh my, this guy had a lot of hatred in him. His past and vividly present lives kept oozing out of the woodwork. It was around this time that I started wondering if I should break away from him and just do the business on my own.
I’ll bet you’re wondering why I didn’t check this guy out thoroughly before getting deep into a business relationship, aren’t you?
I did check him out!
I had a Private Investigator do a background search on him and I checked his credit and criminal history. Nothing turned up. The fact that he had only been back living in the USA for two years might have had something to do with this, so I also spoke to several of his friends and past employers. They all vouched for him, except one. His best friend and I spoke on the phone while I was in California and this is what he said to me “What are you going to do when he gets a case of the big head and decides he can do the business without you?” I really should have listened to him. But I plunged on.
I met with an interested investor about one of our ideas and he had a group that was willing to invest big dollars based on my business plan. The 37 page plan pitched a company based in California and everyone was very excited about it. I say everyone….everyone, but my business partner. While I was building the foundation for the business based in California, where he lived, he was busy falling in love with the woman in Florida. Now, suddenly, he just had to live in Florida! So he was moving.
All of the work I had done and the money I had spent making things happen, was all for nothing. This guy was a total loser and had I listened to my gut in the beginning, had I listened to the loser’s best friend, I wouldn’t be in the boat I was in. If you ever have this many warning flags in the fledgling beginnings of a new business partnership, do yourself and everyone around you a huge favor and get out before getting out requires a lawyer.