Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Till Death Do Us Part

Even though he was my partner, Joel never asked me to put Queenie Cakes under both our names. He insisted that this company was mine and mine alone. If our catering half kept going as well as it was, then we may have opened up another division and I would have made him my partner in that, or me his partner. Whomever wanted to be the head of the catering part wasn't important to me, but Queenie Cakes was.

Over the years, people have tried to hand me money to invest. Some only wanted to be silent investors who wanted to see me succeed and probably see a return on their money in a year or two. I've had one or two people actually want to buy into a piece of my business as a partner.

Here's the tricky part. PARTNER means EQUAL. It doesn't not mean you get to hand someone part of the work; it means HALF has to be divided; each person being in charge of their strong suits. This always frightened the hell out of me. Once someone elses name is on the corporate papers you both (or all of you, depending how many people are involved) now own a piece of the pie. Legally, everything is divided among all the partners, depending what is written out in the contracts.

It was never my intention to ever have a partner for Queenie Cakes. Like I said, I don't see my business as just a money making operation. This business is the child I never had and the family I gave up on in order to pursue my dreams. Losing this business to poor management, or worse- someone taking advantage of me and taking it away is like watching someone shoot my child in the head right in front of me. It would be devastating and I don't even know if I could recover from something like that.

I've toyed with the idea of a partner when it seemed as if I had another creative soul I may have spent the rest of my life with. It would have made sense to consider this person as a partner in my business if he was going to be my life partner. My business is such a huge part of my life, I can't imagine not integrating the two relationships together. However, like some people have doubts with their relationships, those doubts are magnified when it comes to your business.

Trust is a huge issue. Taking on someone to incorporate into your business means that you need to trust them with your life. They will know your trade secrets, your suppliers, your recipes, your customer base, your financial situation (personally and corporately), and all the in's and out's that make your business tick. How many people could you trust with that sort of information?

I think that making someone your partner in your business is actually more risky than marrying them. When a marriage dissolves it can get tricky depending on the emotional mess created and the financial ties both people had with one another. Assets and kids also play a big part. Sometimes one person walks away with more than the other. When two partners splint in a business, it's legally ugly. Sometimes one person needs to come up with a ton of money to buy the other person out. If there are debts, it's a nightmare. The worse part is when neither party wants to relinquish the rights to the business. You could very well find yourself out on your ass without a penny to your name while your old partner is now the sole proprietor on your dream. Battles like this could go on and on for years in a courtroom, and often the business falls apart before an agreement can even be made.

That's why I have always been so careful about whom I speak to about my business, whom I ask for advice, and whom I allow in. I nearly made a huge mistake not too long ago. The results could have been catastrophic to my baby, and I could have found myself pushed out of this thing that I've been building for the last eight years.

Liars are never good partners. A white lie may get you a few bucks off on supplies or extend your credit by several thousand dollars, but keep in mind that someone who can easily lie to others can very well turn around and lie to you. Is that someone you would trust with the inner workings of your business? Before I ever consider letting an outsider near my baby again, I have to be 1,000,000% confident that this is a person I would trust with my life. I need to know that they will tell me the truth about everything; even if that truth will hurt my feelings or make me cry. The truth hurts sometimes, but it's always better than a lie.

If someone can call me their friend and then lie to my face, that same person can call me their partner and potentially pilfer my business and livelihood right from under me. Scratch a liar, find a thief. That means if someone can lie about something, stealing is not too far behind.

You have to protect your business the way you would protect your child. You wouldn't just leave your child with anyone you barely know, unattended. You can't just let anyone into you business without knowing everything there is to know about them. Being careless and too eager to jump into a fruitful partnership can have devastating consequences. And those consequences can't be undone.

Always be careful about who you let in. You may not be able to get them out.


  1. so your ex tried to steel your business?

  2. Not at all. Where did you get that impression? I don't think I implied that in any way. Sometimes my business affects my personal life and vice versa, but neither one of my last two relationship failures had anything to do with my business.

    Joel was the driving force that got me off the ground. My last ex designed the logos that I use now, which takes my business to a whole new level that I was struggling to get to.

    I think I've written before that I am so VERY grateful for the help I've received from the people who have been in my life. Without those two people (and other people, as well) I don't think I would even be where I'm at now.

    This post was about being protective of your business, and not just jumping at an offer that may be too good to be true. I'm comparing a business partnership to a marriage because I've experienced the parallel in my own marriage.

    It took me 20 minutes to get a marriage license in Vegas and half an hour to do the ceremony. It took a week to get my marriage certificate in the mail. It took me three years to get my divorce finalized and I was left holding the bag with over 50 grand in debt. See? Easy to step into it; VERY hard to get out.

    Trust. That's what I was writing about. Just like no one should marry someone they don't trust; you would also NEVER partner up with an associate you can't trust. And, if someone can lie to you as a friend, you better believe they'll lie to you in your business. If someone can lie, someone can steal. If someone can steal, someone can stab you in the back.

    To answer your question: No. Neither one of my exes ever attempted something like that. If they did, I wouldn't be so civil when they are mentioned here.