Clarity

Forget what hurt you, but never forget what it taught you.

Shannon Alder

This is the last post of a three post series, what happened earlier

PART 1 – http://www.brunodelepierre.be/discovering-the-entrepreneurial-itch/
PART 2 – http://www.brunodelepierre.be/broken-promises/

 

How I learnt what true friendship means and what money does with people.

For several months things seemed to go well, I became my team’s free agent.
I brought in some new clients which weren’t part of the budget for that year, helped with the set up of a more integrated service approach and supported where I was asked. I liked it.

That was until late autumn when I found a disturbing reminder letter, quite coincidentally. When digging in deeper, it showed my fresh management team made some important management mistakes: Continued selling to non-paying customers, not paying what needed to be legally paid and at the same time not focusing on their own management priorities. Those whom I trusted the well-being of the organisation and my own fate, didn’t deliver what they promised.

At the time I was quite distressed – I was personally liable for the unpaid amounts – and decided that I needed to step in again to try to save what I could.

This understandably didn’t go well with my management team, and to my surprise back then, especially with my friend. Reacting quite harshely, things turned sour quickly to a point where even I didn’t like to come to work any more.

Strange things happening

Late 2013, I started looking into the sales funnel of 2014 along with a budget analysis of that year. I asked my friend to help me as I was out of touch with the day to day business for about 9 months. He reluctantly provided me with inputs.

At one moment, something strange happened. A key project dissapeared from the overview. When I asked him, he told me the client changed his mind. Representing about 20% of our projected turnover, this was a big set back.

It was around that time my friend decided he didn’t want to continue working together, without telling me why… I would know why 6 weeks later.

When digging deeper into the result of 2013, I also found out my experienced financial manager had invoiced double of the amount that he was budgeted for. His enthusiasm and the hours he had spent were part of the problem that was created.

Continuing my 2014 planning, I realised we needed a capital raise to properly continue. I drafted a plan and got in touch with some potential industry partners.

A little to my surprise I must admit, by the end of that month, it was two days after Christmas, a deal was on the table to get the problems that were created solved. I was strengthened in the belief I could set things right and continued the planning for 2014 in the first weeks of january.

When masks fall

Early january, I scheduled a meeting with my business angel to see where we could work together. There were several projects in the pipeline so I hoped for a fruitful meeting.

The night before our lunch meeting, something surreal happened. I discovered my friend and my business angel had set up a partnership. Together with my operational manager and a team member he had created a competing company…

It was only then that I fully understood my friend who called me his brother little less than a year ago, was not my friend.

The same person who was lashing out at my business angel 3 months ago, had made a deal that pushed me in the ropes.

Not so much the set-back of lost business, rather the feeling of betrayal of someone whom I trusted like a brother, was the one thing that floored me.

My wife and I were going to have a daughter 6 weeks afterwards and what should have been the most exciting time of my life was going to be the roughest period yet.

Choices…

After considering the different options, I decided to halt the company.

Although technically the company didn’t go bankrupt – I decided to appoint someone to maximise the value of the assets and close the shop – It did feel like one.

This was probably the hardest decision I had to take in my life. I decided to move on, with a backpack of lessons filled to the top.

Contrary to what many people think, I do not hold any grudges… you cannot put out fire with oil. Wounds heal.

Also, it has provided clarity in many aspects of my life. I know now what friendship is and as always, your experiences bring you on exactly the path you need to be on.

As Steve Jobs said: you can only connect the dots backwards…

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