When I started my business, everyone warned me about making Charles my business partner. Dealing with a business partner, especially one like Charles, can be hectic. Many things can go wrong and get in the way of your business’s success. However, I was willing to take the risk since Charles had experience running a business and I thought he would be useful.
“You’re going to regret it.” My friend warned me.
“It’s just business. What’s the worst that could happen?” I asked.
“The two of you can’t even finish a conversation without arguing.”
“Yeah, but we always reconcile.”
“Is that how you’ll run your business?”
“I hope not. We’ve been getting along well lately.”
Charles and I had a complicated history. We were not only recent exes but also our relationship had been full of drama. We had explosive fights and broke up every few months. Nonetheless, he had always been there for me when I needed help and supported everything I did.
When we finally ended things for good, I had been working on a business which he promised to help me set up. I thought that he wouldn’t follow through on his promise after we broke up but he reached out to enquire whether I was still working on it.
“How’s your business going?” He asked during a lunch meeting he arranged.
“It’s good. Everything is almost ready. I just need to find delivery people.” I explained.
“Don’t worry about that. I told you that you can use my motorbike guys whenever you need them.” He said.
“Thank you. I also found reliable suppliers. I need to pay them and they will ship my order.”
“How much is it?”
“Around Ksh 50,000.”
“Okay. Just let me know if you need anything.”
“Thank you so much. You’ve really made this process so smooth. I don’t know what I would do to show my appreciation.”
“I have an idea. What if I become your business partner? I mean I’ve already invested a lot of time and money into the business. It’s only right if we become partners.”
“I knew there was a catch,” I answered laughing. “This is my baby, though. I don’t want anyone interfering with the way I run my business.”
“I promise I will stay out of your way. All I want is to help you.”
“I’ll think about it.”
Since things had been going so well between us, I thought that nothing could go wrong if I made Charles my partner. Additionally, I didn’t have much of a choice. I needed someone who had experience to help me navigate the business world and he was willing to do it for free.
We got to work immediately and within a month, my first order had arrived and I started serving my customers. Everything was going great. Charles stayed out of my way and only stepped in when I needed assistance.
We had regular monthly meetings to discuss the progress and strategize how we would grow the business. It was during one of these meetings that Charles let me know his real intentions.
“I’m really thinking about getting married.” He said.
“You should. You’re getting old.” I responded.
It wasn’t unusual to discuss our dating life since we were friends.
“What happened to that Nigerian guy you were dating?” He asked.
“We broke up.”
“So, you’re single?”
“You know, you’ve always been my dream girl. We were so good together. My mum still asks about you.”
“Yeah. She says that I should marry you.”
I laughed since I didn’t know whether he was joking or serious. However, he wasn’t laughing and insisted that we should get back together. I refused and changed the subject.
That was only the beginning of my woes. Our business meetings turned into dates. He would always host them at intimate restaurants. When I realized what he was doing, I insisted that we should only meet at the boutique. That didn’t stop him from showing up with dinner and flowers every time.
Though there was nothing wrong with him hitting on me, I wanted to maintain a professional relationship. I wasn’t willing to risk my business for anything or anyone.
The business was growing faster than I expected, which was becoming overwhelming. So, I decided to hire a business manager to take some of the responsibilities from me. I also thought that having another employee in the business would make Charles act more professionally.
“You look so good today.” He said after arriving at the boutique.
As he leaned in to hug me, the new Business manager walked in and the two locked eyes.
“Oh, this is our new Business Manager, Adam,” I said.
“Nice to meet you. This is my girlfriend.” Charles said jokingly.
“He’s joking. This is Charles, my business partner.”
“And future hubby.” Charles chimed in.
Clearly, he wasn’t going to stop hitting on me just because there was another employee around. If anything, he got worse. He insisted on coming to the boutique every evening and driving me home even though I told him that it was unnecessary.
“I have to take care of you.” He said.
“Charles, you’re making it hard for us to work together. I thought you would be professional.” I finally said.
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t like that you keep hitting on me, especially in front of the Business Manager. It doesn’t give a good impression.”
“Why do you care? He can quit if he wants. We can easily replace him.”
“I don’t want to replace him. He’s good at his job. You need to stop flirting with me or I’ll be forced to end the partnership.”
“I knew this would happen. Now that you don’t need me, you think you can threaten me.” He said. “Fine, let’s end the partnership and see how you’ll survive without me.”
Even though he seemed more upset than usual, I thought that Charles would change his mind after some time. However, he cut me off completely. I tried to call and text him several times but he didn’t respond and I haven’t heard from him since that day.
I was disappointed since I thought that Charles and I would remain friends for life. Nonetheless, I was able to move on and focus on my business which continued to thrive.
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