In 2015, a very good friend of mine introduced someone to my work. Then I was still blogging on the former platform, Karo’s Story Blog.
It so happened that as at the time he was introduced to the blog, he was in need of a writer to help him write a biography for one of the top, but very annoying politicians we have in the country.
So my friend, all the way from Ebonyi, reached out to me and told me, this guy needs you to help him write a biography. He sent me the contact details of the man, who was also his very close friend. But I didn’t get to call before he did. We talked at length and then fixed a date for a one on one meeting.
During the meeting, he gave me the draft for the first chapter. That was all he had been able to write out. I was to expand it and then continue with the other chapters.
When we got to the part about my fee, the man said no fee yet, as he would like us to partner on the project. In other words, I carry out more research to write the book, edit it to perfection, join him in printing it and then we would together, work on launching it with the said politician and other dignitaries.
“Karo, if the money we make from this book is too small, it shouldn’t be less than 10 million. But I am targeting 20 million,” he said. He encouraged me and told me we would split the cash. Of course, I was too scared to discuss percentage.
I was impressed though. Seriously, I was going to make good money with this guy’s plan. So I agreed. He gave me 10,000 for research purpose and promised to send another if that wouldn’t be enough. Awesome! So I went to work.
Before I was done with the book and we had made the first print out sample, he started to tell me about a magazine company he was opening and how he would like me to be part of the company, as a partner. Again, there would be no salary. But we would work as a team, and when the money started to roll in, we would share the profits.
Again, I bought the idea. Only for me to start work with him and see that it was actually an NGO, and I was not the only person he had discussed this partnership idea with. There were two others I was not aware of and he just expected us to accept each other without complaints. Lol.
Unfortunately, I had only saved a few thousands from my previous ghostwriting work. It was that cash I used in transporting to that office for the first 2 months plus, including feeding and a host of other things. Unfortunately, the nature of the job didn’t allow me to have time to continue with my freelance writing services.
When it was depleted, I had nothing. I now had to ask this guy for assistance with transportation. Guy started looking down on me and felt he could yell at me as he liked. Sure, there were a few times, 2 or 3 times I think, that he gave me 1,000 or 1500 for transportation. And then there were also a few times, he bought me launch at the office, which I appreciated.
But I wasn’t comfortable with that though, because it kind of gave him the idea that he could yell at me as he liked; talk about selling your self-respect for a thousand bucks. Lol. I never wanted to disturb my parents for assistance, but I eventually found myself doing just that. I felt bad, because all I wanted to do was give them the best things money can buy, not disturbing their pockets.
Meanwhile, the work we were doing had taken so many different turns. They got distracted from launching the book while pursuing another source of income and when it was almost time for the politician who was in power then, (state governor) to vacate the seat for the newly elected governor, that was when they wanted to hurry to launch the book in his name, because, after handover, the guy will have no more relevance in the state. We all know how politics works.
During my time in that place, I experienced a lot of rubbish from the team. My four months in that place was hell, I grew thinner by the day, even though I refused to work at weekends. But during weekend meetings, they made all kinds of decisions in my absence. I was no longer relevant to them because I insisted on having the weekend to myself.
When I would resume work on Monday, I would see they did a lot of brainstorming and even went ahead to execute. Since I refused to be around on weekends, mostly because it was the only time I had for my blog, I couldn’t say anything. I couldn’t counter what they had discussed because it would seem like I was drawing them backward.
At the end of the day, that venture didn’t pay off as much as they had thought it would. In fact, they spent over 2 million to get it going, and what they made out of it was mostly used to award prizes and some other stuff. Profit was nothing to write home about
The original plan I had with this guy and his second, which was about the book project, ended up not working because of the new plan pushed in front by the new teammate they brought in; a plan that ended up still not working. At the end of the day, things got out of hand for me.
However, I couldn’t shake off the feeling that the guy was using me, the new girl who pushed in the other project and made them focus on it instead of the original plan of launching the book, as well as a few others who finally came to the office.
And from deep conversations I had with him at certain times, it was clear that was his way of doing things; to use people, make them break their backs to help him achieve his goals, and then pay very little in the long run, or pay nothing.
I didn’t work weekends, but I worked my ass off. His behavior made me believe at the time, that millionaires grind their staffs to their last strength and still go on to underappreciate them, not pay well, or not pay at all. But they still think the staff should worship the ground they walk on. The worst part was, you can’t take his word for anything. He may say A this minute, but he actually meant Z. Honesty was not his strong point, and I can’t say if that has changed.
Thank God for my experience with Ofili Okechukwu of OkadaBooks. He changed that perception and made me believe, you can make cool millions without being an ass to those who work for you. You can build a solid brand without playing a trick on anyone or being sneaky. And you can build loyalty among your workers by planting your vision in their heads, teaching them how to achieve what should be achieved, caring about their well-being and generally just be you.
I was robust when I joined that NGO. But I was so skinny by the time I left them, which was four months later.
And after I left, the guy would call me up for one thing or the other. It was like he suddenly valued my input and was trying to make me get involved in some work. But when he realized I was gone for good, the call stopped.
Everyone I came in contact with after that work, kept asking if I had been sick. I was so lean and so… I don’t even know the words to use. I returned to my blogging and started to work on my income again. It is over two years now, and I am so happy I took the decision to leave, as at when I did. I learned the other girl left too.
I used to say to myself I wasted four months of my life. But in truth, I learned a valuable lesson; to never trust partnerships wholeheartedly without looking out for my self, stating my benefits clearly, as well as my pay and other working conditions.
I can’t tell all the details of my experience here unless I want to write a book about it. Lol.
So, why I’m I writing this? To tell you that,
1. If you find yourself among people who do not really value you, don’t stay longer with them. They will mess up your thinking and your personality.
2. If you find someone you barely know bringing Ideas to you, and he/ she asks for a partnership where he/she still has all of the final say in every decision and profits made, please stay away from that person, that’s not a partnership. You simply become a glorified employee. you’ll be used and dumped.
3. If the person bringing to you any form of partnership deceives people in your presence, please know that at your back, he is deceiving you in another person’s presence. Yes, there is almost always an eyewitness. Lol.
4. Do not stay in a partnership where you’re not taken seriously; a partnership where if you don’t join them in their deceit, you’re not taken seriously. Please quit. Your peace of mind is way better and more rewarding than whatever empty promises they made to you.
5. Please, in fact, state your fee for services rendered. All those stuff of, when the money comes, we will share it, run away from it. Lol. These people are never certain. After getting what they want, they tell you “IF” the money comes. In many instances, it does not come, or it comes less than what was expected. There are also times it actually comes, but then the music mostly changes and you rarely get what was expected.
6. If you’re unlucky like me, you will not get any payment at all.
To sum up the above, what I’m trying to say is, “Do not be scared to put a price on your services, not just any price, but one that is worth the time and efforts spent. And if you are offered a partnership, but do not want it, then don’t go for it. Don’t be coerced into it.
In fact, I’ll advise, where your business is concerned, do not go for partnerships that will end up grinding you and your business to a halt, only to pay you little or nothing”.
During my time at that NGO, my freelance writing business stopped. And yet, I was earning nothing from the partnership I went into.
Partnerships shouldn’t kill your business, It should help to make both parties grow stronger, more popular, and richer.
So that’s it for Throwback Thursday. What about you? What experiences have you had with people offering partnerships? Please, please, please, share with us. I look forward to reading from you.