On July 25th, 2022, a man named Jan Proost narrated a story on the Lynn Ngugi show about how a man who claimed to be his closest friend betrayed his trust and conned him. Jan met William Murage in Belgium in 2012. The two worked together and ended up forming a friendship. Along the way, they decided to venture into business together.
Jan assisted William in buying leather seats and gym equipment from Belgium, which they would import to Kenya and sell at a shop that William opened. Convinced by William, he also helped him to construct apartment buildings in Kasarani. Jan fully trusted in William, so he had no issue lending him money whenever he needed it or funding the projects they had together.
They had agreed that the money earned would go to a joint account and that they would split the profits. However, as time passed, Jan noticed that the money in their account remained the same despite sales being done. Since he was in and out of Kenya frequently, he had entrusted William to deal with their projects.
Things started escalating when Jan would ask about the money, and William would snap at him. As time passed, William asked Jan to move out of the apartment he was staying in, and he moved one of his relatives in. The apartment that he helped him to build.
When asked why he put so much faith in William, he said his friend had assured him they would benefit from their projects. He was also always on top of things, especially when acquiring the necessary legal documents for their business. Jan knew that the process was hectic and long, especially for him as a foreigner, and since William knew a shortcut, he decided to let him get the documents his way.
To be able to get both sides of the story, Lynn spoke to William on call, and he denied everything that his friend had said. He insisted that the business was his as well as the apartments and that the only money he owed Jan was a personal loan of 6 million. Since Jan let William handle nearly everything, the only substantial evidence he had was phone call recordings of their conversations.
Eventually, after many unfulfilled promises, Jan took legal action, and William agreed to pay him 100k every month to clear the loan. However, this didn’t seem to satisfy Jan since he had invested so much in their business and the construction of the apartments. Additionally, he had given William money to acquire land in Nakuru, which did not happen.
According to Jan, he had spent over 40 million on the projects, and William was the one enjoying the fruits of his investment. A man he had trusted so much as his friend had conned him and left him struggling as he was thriving.
Jan finished by saying that he had chosen to share his story with the world to prevent other people from going through what he went through. He also did it to try and get back all the money he had lost.
Here is a list of things you can do to avoid this incident from happening to you.
Make Sure That You And Your Friend Are Compatible Business Partners
When choosing a business partner, especially a friend, you should consider whether the two of you can effectively run a business. Some of the qualities that make people good friends may not be the qualities that make people suitable business partners.
Consider asking yourself these few questions before entering a business agreement.
Do you share the same goals?
Have you dealt with conflict before? If yes, were you able to reach a mutual understanding?
Do you have the same work ethic?
Communicate About Your Goals And Expectations
Once you have established that you and your friend can work together, talk about what you both expect from the business. Think about your vision and establish a timeline for reaching your key goals. From time to time, sit down with your partner and review what you have been able to accomplish. This helps you keep good track of what is happening.
Take Part In The Steps Required To Start A Business
Always be present during the startup process, no matter how long it takes. Don’t give in easily to shortcuts since the legal documents you acquire are vital and may help you prove your presence in the business if such a case arises.
Have A Witness Present During Important Decisions
Always having a third-party present when making significant decisions about a business is essential. You can choose to have a lawyer or anyone you trust oversee and ensure both parties sign all the necessary documents.
Communicate Openly And Effectively
Venturing into a business with a friend can be tricky. You are never sure of the outcome, so to be on the safe side, you should always be keen on their moves. If the other party makes a move that does not sit right with you, point it out; if the money doesn’t seem to add up, inquire and follow up. If you don’t agree with your partner about a decision, they have made for the business discussion and come up with a solution that works best.
You should also find a communication system that works best for both of you, it could be daily catch-up meetings and monthly meet-ups for full updates.
Keep Track Of Profits And Investments
Money can come between a friendship as well as a partnership. Open a business account you both have access to, then agree that there will be complete transparency regarding finances. No partner should be allowed to remove funds from the business without the other partner’s consent. This will ensure that both of you maintain the trust needed to run the business. Each partner should also have a record of all the sales and profits made daily.
Separate Business From Your Friendship
Drawing the line between when to be friends and when to be business partners is essential. Whatever happens to your business should not affect your friendship and vice versa. Remember that business is never personal. Set time apart to deal with business and time to hang out and relax. This will help nurture your friendship and maintain a healthy business relationship.