Joint-venture breach of trust

When my joint-venture partner sold the first batch of our newly launched product, they refused to share any of the profits. This directly contravened our agreement, which was to share costs and profits equally. They would provide the marketing/PR efforts, and we would provide the product R&D.

I was shocked. They gave two reasons to justify their action. The client was one they had been cultivating before our joint-venture. And since we had failed to contribute to the marketing/PR, we had “made them” take this action.

They went on to accuse us of pressuring them to sign our agreement. They complained that an equal share was unfair because their contribution was more valuable. They told us we should be grateful they even “allowed” us to partner with them, since they could have just contracted any third-party to do the work.

They say they will honour our agreement from this point onward. They currently hold all the inventory. This product is the realisation of a lifelong dream. I feel betrayed, exploited and trapped.

Insights

A lifelong dream has strong emotions attached.

There are dishonest “users” out there who says all the right things. We need to judge people by their actions, not their words.

Our own self-doubt can be manipulated and used against us. When we doubt our abilities, we risk entering into imbalanced, exploitative relationships.

The law is no deterrent/protection in some cases.

Outcome

The client sought legal advice, but decided against that course of action for financial reasons.

They implemented a staged disengagement plan to maximise the near-term benefits and eventually sever the relationship. They used appropriate social media activities to distance the partner’s brand from their own. And they implemented new outreach activities to cement existing client relationships.

They devised practical ways to limit the impact from ongoing manipulations and demands. This included self-care practices to manage the stress.


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