Business Partnership With Friend Fell Through, Ruined Friendship

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  • After working together for four years, my business partner sent an email ending our relationship. 
  • In the email, she outlined everything wrong with me and all the mistakes I made. 
  • After that, she still wanted to be friends, but I had to part ways completely. 

In 2014, I got an email from my business partner; it was a notification that we would no longer be working together.

The news was not prefaced in any way. Per the email, her decision was due to my numerous inferior skills: my entry-level abilities in computer marketing, my unwillingness to work flexible hours, and my lack of knowledge in the SEO industry.

My business partner and I were close friends when we started the company in 2010. We had known each other since college; in fact, we were roommates. We decided to start the business because we had similar interests and skills. It was a time when the job market wasn’t great, and we wanted to see if we could make a go of it starting from nothing. I was new to the copywriting industry, and she was more experienced, but she was supposed to act as a mentor, showing me what she had learned at her full-time gig.

But four years into our business, my former partner emailed me a list of skills I apparently did not have and told me that I would no longer be riding her coattails. She went on to list my “mistakes” and tell me that I lacked business savvy — which I believe is 100% true.

And then she dodged my calls for days. After all this, she wanted to remain friends, but I had to step away completely.

She finally told me that a client didn’t like my work

I finally got ahold of my now ex-business partner on the phone a few days later. She told me our client didn’t like the work I submitted.

“She said she couldn’t believe how bad it was; she couldn’t even fix them. She just paid you and deleted all the blogs,” she told me.

I was gutted. Of course, I knew they were bad. The client’s entire website was pure cheese. I gave her what I thought she wanted and then asked for edits like always. Because the client and my former business partner were friends, the client shared the dirt.

After telling me all the gory details, however, my former partner begged me not to let the client know she had spilled, lest she seem unprofessional. Nearly a decade later, not a single week goes by that I don’t think about that conversation and being ditched by someone who meant so much to me.

Somehow, she still wanted to be friends

This business breakup only pertained to the professional part of our relationship. She still wanted to be besties. She wanted to turn back the clock to how it was when we were just great friends. To her, working together and being friends were two separate boxes. She could check one without checking the other.

I had no such filter. It’s like when friends become a romantic couple and can never take it back. For me, it wouldn’t be the same.

Besides, every time I saw her I’d be reminded of how inferior she believed me to be. How could I be friends with someone who thought I was unskilled, terrible at my job, and lacked talent? Even if I was able to block out that pain, would we just never talk about our respective jobs?

Ultimately, I didn’t want someone in my life who would degrade me, tally up “mistakes” rather than address them, and email a list of insults then ignore me.

So after that phone call, I decided we wouldn’t be friends.

A decade later, I now see we were just different people

We saw many things differently, and work was just one of them. She just had the wherewithal to rip the Band-Aid sooner rather than later.

She had more drive. She wanted to work with software platforms, to dive into the tech side, to speak at conferences, and to become a one-woman show. And me? I wanted to write. I wanted to tell people’s stories in print, talk about their services online, find creative solutions through words, and work with a community of cheerleaders — where everyone provides a step so we all get to the top.

I’ve since leaned into my strengths and found people who support my skill set by hiring me for content or design projects, not stats and code. I now work with people to discover their goals. I’m not trying to beat the competition and climb to the top.

In the end, we both got what we wanted. The only way to get there was without each other.

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