Some of the hardest lessons I have learned in my life is realizing too late you’ve trusted the wrong person. Very few things I’ve learned are as painful and devastating as when someone betrays your confidence, takes advantage of you or outright lies or steals. When this has happened to me I really have a hard time coming back from it and finding ways to move forward. Not only because I’ve lost faith in others but I’m now doubting myself on top of it.
About this time last year I reached out to someone I thought could help me with an idea I had in my business. I knew they shared an interest and together I thought we could figure out how to do it. I had already done a great deal of work with several pieces of it and had a general idea of what it could look like but just knew with this other person’s experience we could create something truly awesome. For months we poured over this information together, talking every day, several times a day. Then one day this person brought in another friend who also shared an interest in it as a trusted confident. It was presented to me after she’d talked to this other person and telling her all about what we were working on. I let that go because the work we were doing was truly good. It looked like we may truly pull this off and have something for our businesses that gave us an edge. I was looking forward to having something to offer for sale that would also help others just like me. My excitement for this idea and project overshadowed what I should have saw coming.
Along the way in this creative process I started being excluded from the conversations. I started being asked less and less for my input and then finally I was told they would do a little bit of it and get back to me. Several months later one of them left me a message saying they would show me what they had come up with after the holidays and then nothing more came of it. One day on social media I saw a post that said they were rolling out a new thing together. The same thing I had reached out originally to ask for their help on. No mention of me was made in the post and no outreach to me was done about it prior to this post. I had never seen the final product. They were also planning to sell it to others, again a key element to the original idea I reached on.
As you can imagine not only was my heart busted in a million pieces over realizing I had laid trust where I shouldn’t have but I also may have hurt my very small, struggling business as a result. This was the opportunity I saw that would help me grow and make it easier to balance working full time with getting my business off the ground. This would have put me on the map potentially with something unique and innovative. When I showed the post to my husband he asked if I could prove any of it? All I had was pieces of paper of this idea and some preliminary tools I had started creating and shared with them as we worked through the foundation of this idea. Nothing I thought I could claim as property. Emotionally I was very hurt and upset because I thought I was working with friends on a common goal that would benefit us all. I never dreamed something like this would have happened with them. I did one of the most basic and stupidest things you can do in business and I knew it… too late.
It has taken me a long time to think about this situation and go through the emotions of anger and wanting to call them up and tell them off. I have refrained from it but I’ve also kept a healthy distance since. I’ve cried over it and spent a couple nights not sleeping over it. I’ve continued to work on my business and try not to let the thought of this idea come into my thoughts. When sales are flat or I have a hard month I try not to think about it because it only makes me angry again. I’ve gone into my corporate job on the hard days trying not to see this experience as a cheated chance that would have gotten me full time in my business sooner. I’ve tried and I’ve failed many times at brushing myself off over it. Not only did I lose who I thought were friends but I put myself at a disadvantage on top of it.
When you the solo person in a business that is struggling we are taught to find mentors and people who can help us. We are taught to reach out and find people who can help put our ideas into motion. We are also taught to go into things collaboratively and trustingly, especially with people you consider friends. After all you call them friends which implies you can trust them right? I knew the rules weren’t the same in business and I certainly knew people don’t always play fair. If someone can take an advantage most will. I knew all of it and I did it anyway. The fault of this situation entirely rests on me and I know that too. That doesn’t make it hurt less and it’s equally hard not to let it impact what you do next.
These types of situations make it very difficult to encourage others to join your team in business, especially a direct sales business where team is an oversold and under delivered ideal. In my opinion it only adds to the bad image because so many who have been taken advantage of long before me. Many millions have gone into this business being sold on the idea it’s a friendly, supportive opportunity that we will all benefit from and it can be but you have to not lose sight of it being a business. Knowing a leader would do this to someone in her team makes it difficult to convince others your team is different. I can’t tell you that at this point and be honest about it. I won’t ever tell you that actually. I can tell you that is not my character at all and from this experience I can assure you I am doubly conscious of the messaging I give my clients, team leaders and other business associates since this happened.
The truth is I made a mistake and the lessons on this will be far reaching for me. My mistake was not protecting myself with things that I would have in my career done without thinking about upfront. I fell for the oldest trick there is in business and I recognize I will pay quite some time on that. The lesson here is you have to find a product, company and team you like but you have to keep your business hat firmly on in how you navigate it. It is very hard to always be thinking in terms of business in some of these relationships but not doing so can leave you in the situation I find myself now personally and in my business.
So, I realized I had two choices. I could give up and even close up my business or I could focus on what was next that was positive, honest and right. That is truly the beauty of having your own business is that you can choose who you work with, hang out with and even call friend. You can recover by being you and overcoming it by taking what you’ve learned and using it for good. I won’t say I’m over being angry about it but I’m using the fuel of that anger to be different. If the norm is what happened to me than I want choose honesty and integrity over sales and growth. In the long run I believe that will give me the business I truly want to offer others. That in the end I believe will give my business the true edge.
This post is meant as an encouragement for others who have been taken advantage of in their own businesses by others you thought could be trusted. Please know you too can overcome it in a positive way. It truly is where you can emerge from the hurt building what is right for you and live naturally in peace with others who truly do deserve your trust.
I’m looking for others who believe in doing business the honest way and want to do things differently. If you’re looking for that opportunity too, then take my free Leader Assessment Quiz
to see if this is right for you: https://forms.gle/HBF4LFNuGXP6vKXZA