My business partner made a terrible mistake by investing in a fake scheme that has cost us Sh3 million. When we held a board meeting, despite the anger that was bubbling within me, I was able to contain myself for two hours. During this time all appeared well and he expressed remorse.
But then, he started finger-pointing saying we had made similar mistakes. This annoyed me and I let my anger out. With that I was able to put my demands on the table. My colleague was emotionally neutral and I now feel like I was the bad boy. Was I right to show my anger or should I have suppressed it?
The line between an investor and a risk taker is very narrow indeed; some people think they are one and the same thing. Few people in business today have reached the levels of success they have without ever having made a single mistake.
Perhaps the most important thing in business is to make sure one does not make the same mistake twice. If you do, then you are likely to repeat it a third, fourth and fifth time, by which time you will qualify for the class of business failures.
As long as you learn from your mistake, you can treat it as yet another lesson from the university of life. Pull yourself up and get on with it; as the old saying goes, success is about falling seven times and getting up eight times.
A few weeks ago, I shared a platform in London with a young man who had an incredible story. He told the audience of more than five hundred, how he had become such an expert at failure, that failure had become part of his signature.
From childhood, he had made many mistakes at home and at school and he performed poorly in school. His relationship with his parents and siblings was poor as was that with his peers and teachers. After school he had moved from one job to the next, either being sacked for incompetence or some other real or imagined mistakes. He made many attempts to enter business but always ended up in failure. He was in severe financial problems.
He entered many colleges but was unable to settle into a career. Relationships with women were no better; he seemed able to pick out the bad ones without help.
He often borrowed money from friends and relatives sometimes for food or, when a bright idea hit him, to start a business. None worked out.
In time, he made friends with failure and started to treat failure as second nature. As he said, he was so used to failing that he no longer feared to fail, and was surprised if anything seemed like it might succeed.
That he was giving his testimony to a paying audience of highly successful men and women was the evidence that his fortunes had changed. He electrified his audience with his personal testimony on failure.
He now owns a large entertainment business that has a presence in three continents. He is a dollar millionaire who is available to people for a lesson or two on when failure can be the background upon which success can and must be built on.
His basic lesson is that as long as one learns from mistakes and does not give up, life is full of promises.
Much as you were entitled to feel and express your anger at your colleague, it is now time for you to get back together and seek to understand where and how your business went wrong.
Expending your limited energy and resources fighting is the most foolish thing you could do to yourselves.
Then as the old saying goes, “If it is too good to be true, it is because it is not true. When you are promised massive returns by a scheme, that is always because the risks are so high that you are almost certain to lose your money.
The lesson you and your friend have learnt from investing in a fake scheme is to in future check out with the regulatory authorities where you may safely invest your money.
In 1920, Charles Ponzi made his name in the criminal world by taking large sums of money from unsuspecting men and women such as yourself and your partner. In today’s terms, a Ponzi scheme can be recognised by the promise of huge returns, way beyond what the regulated market can offer as a return.
Take some measure of comfort in that you are young and only lost Sh3 million. In recent times, men have died of suicide as they have watched their fortunes collapse in Ponzi and pyramid schemes. Big American banks have collapsed and Greece is on its knees, deeply in debt and on the verge of financial collapse.
Treat your Sh3 million loss as school fees at the University of Life’s Faculty of Business, dust yourself, promise not to make the same mistake ever again and get on with it. In the process of getting up you join the majority of successful business people in the world.