I met my partner at the live event “How to grow your coaching business” in Kyiv. His name was Viktor. He actively asked questions, participated in each discussion, shared his thoughts, and even argued with the trainer.
During the breaks, the crowd gathered around him, and he told funny stories and shared some coaching techniques.
He was a very prominent attendee at the event. Besides, he looked very strange. He was about 40 years old. He looked like Gandalf in the “Lord of the Rings” movie, except his hair was gray instead white.
He was so strange and so mysteriously attractive. I felt he was a great coach. I have an excellent intuitive feeling.
So after the event, I reached him and asked about the coaching. It was expensive – $200 per coach session. I noticed he was good at selling.
At the time, I was doing great at business and wanted to develop my business, so I accepted his offer.
We worked on business development. We built a big vision of my successful coaching practice and worked on my sales. He motivated me a lot.
He was an extremely great coach. I thought, what if he could do coach sessions with my customers!!!!
He asked for $100 per coach session for my customers. We made the deal.
There was one drawback – he was so good at coaching and sales that people quit my program and bought his program. I lost my customers.
Once, I invited Viktor to my favorite restaurant. I wanted to discuss with him the problem of losing my customers. We talked for an hour or more, and then I exclaimed – what if we work together and split the profit 50 on 50.
I’m great at attracting new customers; you’re excellent at retaining customers. So we would make much more money together.
We shook hands and became partners.
But I was young and had little experience. I couldn’t imagine where it would take me in life.
Building business together
I admired Viktor’s wisdom and life experience. I was so happy that from now on, I have such powerful partners. His wife Selena liked me too. I was like an adult son to them. They had 2 little kids, a 6-year boy and a 4-year-old girl.
I loved personal development. And I was convinced that with Viktor and Selena, I would gain so much experience in life, business, and relationships.
They weren’t only my partners but my mentors, friends, and second parents.
As it was our business, Viktor coached me for free. What a great coach I had for free!!! But I couldn’t think of a hidden disadvantage of this coaching.
That was fantastic, and I was thrilled about our future. I had dreamed of doing live training with the 1000 people live. I was absolutely sure that we would do it.
The business thrived. I attracted new customers; Viktor did his best so the customers were happy and continued working with us.
In May, we did a live event in Kyiv. Earlier, I was terrified to do the live event myself. Eight hours of speaking, teaching, and entertaining people are tough, emotionally and physically. But now everything was easy. Selena helped with the organization; I did the program for the event.
Viktor and I spoke on the stage one by one for 45 minutes. I had time to prepare my following speech.
We were so friendly and understood each other without words. I suggested renting a big house and living together to be more efficient in business. Selena suggested moving to the sea and renting a house there.
Wow, the idea was fantastic!
We found dozen of houses, and on the 25th of May, we arrived in Odessa to choose one we would live in. On the 31st of May, we moved to Odessa.
The house was amazing! I felt like a rich man. There were 3 floors and a big green lawn. In the middle of it was spruce. And most importantly – I could see the sea from my office, where I worked.
We had a barbecue outside. The steaks were so delicious. Whiskey and tequila made us so happy. It seemed like a paradise.
But the paradise life wasn’t long. We spent too much money every month.
The rent was expensive. In addition, we have the staff who helped us run the house. 2-3 times a week, a woman who cooked us meals came in, and once a week, a cleaning lady and the team took care of our lawn.
I was the only one who cared for the money and calculated all the expenses. No money for savings left.
I felt insecure. If something happened, our dream life would end in the twinkling of an eye.
Financial security was vital to me.
Later, Viktor told me they had a huge debt when I asked where they spent so much money they got from the business. They had a mortgage, but they were not able to pay. And now they had a trial, so they had to pay a lawyer each month to protect them.
Sometimes I heard Viktor and Selena arguing about something. I heard Selena crying. And later in the evening, Viktor came to me angry about us not making enough money.
My girlfriend Alina was nice but needed too much money to shop.
We lived like kings. I didn’t dream about such a luxurious life, but we were not financially savvy.
Somedays, our paradise life changes to hell. To forget the problems, we visited a beach resort the next day and drank, ate, and swam all day. We laughed and had fun, but I was terrified of the consequences of such behavior. Nobody was counting the expenses and the income… except me.
Viktor was a sales genius. He made us a lot of money, but it wasn’t enough. We needed to cut our expenses. But he said – the way to financial freedom is to earn more and not save more!!! Deep inside my heart, I disagreed but didn’t argue with him because he was a guru to me.
He and Selena helped me so much that I listened to everything he told me. I believed him so much that I didn’t question his words. Only my intuition whispered to me that something was wrong. But I trust Viktor and Selena even more than my intuition. I forgot that because of my intuition, I had built such a profitable business.
I listened only to Viktor. Whatever he told me, I took it as absolute truth.
Since we became partners, Viktor was the one who built the business, and I was like an assistant. Somewhere during our partnership, I lost myself and my confidence. I listened to Viktor and did everything he told me.
For example, I like to write. I wrote hundreds of articles and a book, and thanks to them, people buy from us. Viktor told me that we should record videos. We started to make videos, and I stopped to write.
He hired the people we didn’t need. Our expenses went up.
I decided to save money on my and Alina’s lifestyle. That was unacceptable to Alina. We argued. She was furious. I guessed that she held a grudge. I was frustrated and felt miserable.
Each time I tried to save money, we argued. She was on the same page with Viktor – we should make more money instead of saving.
Viktor was a guru, so I didn’t bring this question up with him. But Alina was my girlfriend. I respect her as a girlfriend, not a business or financial adviser. I refused to do it the way she wanted. After such conflicts, we could not talk to each other for days.
Of course, on such days, my motivation was down. I didn’t work at all; I had no ideas or enthusiasm.
To tell the truth, Alina was doing nothing – she didn’t cook, she didn’t clean up in the house, she didn’t work with customers, she didn’t build the business, she spent money, got offended all the time, and was unsatisfied with everything.
When we started our relationship, I pretended to ignore this. I was patient but couldn’t stand all her demands anymore.
I even had an idea to break up with her.
The moment came just after Viktor’s birthday. The next day she caused a total scene, that she didn’t like this…this… and everything else.
I felt so unappreciated. Viktor came to me and told me that it was too much; her behavior had been killing me, she could not work, and I had no motivation and energy at all.
I told them that I wanted to break up with her. He supported me.
Our relationship was over in one day.
The most disastrous idea was to make an autumn tour through Russia with our live training. I wanted to do live events! We succeeded in Kyiv, so I suggested doing it in Moscow. Viktor suggested doing the tour through Siberia. Selena supported him. The idea was tempting, but I confirmed.
We decided to go to Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, and Moscow.
First of all, for live events, we needed to buy new luxury clothes for all of us! I hate expenses. I wasn’t stingy, but I felt insurmountable discomfort because of such huge expenses.
We were living on the edge. If something unexpected happened, we could not figure that out.
We bought the clothes, booked air tickets, and boarded the flight to Novosibirsk. We had little experience in selling live trainings. The day before our live event, we scheduled a free presentation. We planned to fill the room with 150 people for this free event, and 30 people would have purchased the live event.
When I entered the room, I was shocked – there were only 10 people at the free event. Just imagine 150 chairs and only 10 people in a big room. That was a disaster. Only 2 people bought our 2 days training, so we had only 6 people for the live event!
I was devastated.
The next day after we finished the event, we boarded the train from Novosibirsk to Irkutsk, hoping that we would have luck in Irkutsk.
We took a train because we were short of money. First of all, the train is much cheaper, and secondly, we would spend two nights on the train instead of renting a hotel. Our trip by train lasted for 35 hours.
We checked in to the hotel. Everything was very nice, but I had a strong feeling of approaching disaster. Having the experience of doing the training for 6 people, I was scared – what if we experience the same?
But God was kind to us – only one girl came to the event. It was a relief for me. We canceled the event, and I tried to forget that failure as soon as possible.
We returned back to Odessa with no money. We spent all my savings. But we were home!
I know that a live event in Moscow would be much better because we had 25 people already paid for the event.
We focused on selling more tickets. I was happy that we did not need to buy new clothes!
Despite the feeling of future success in Moscow, something inside me changed after the failure in Siberia. I lost confidence in our bright future and started doubting.
To tell the truth, we lacked money, and my partners started to borrow money from me, which had never happened before. He said, “Once we get the income, I’ll return the debt immediately.”
Because all corporate money flows through my accounts, I returned my money back to myself.
The live event in Moscow was a real success – we got 50 people in the room. It was our most successful training.
We earned lots of money, but I wasn’t happy because I knew for sure that Viktor and Selena would spend it. I decided to save my money because of the uncertainty.
And, of course, Viktor and Selena find the BIG expense – a to the mountains for the New Year holidays.
They had an apparent belief: if we lack money, we should make more. The economy is an inappropriate money model for them. “Rich people never save. Saving money is for the poor,” they told me.
That was the main sticking point in our relationships. I could not convince them, and they couldn’t convince me. Probably it was the single thing I was absolutely sure about.
During the entire 2011 year, we ran the business together, and only at that moment I noticed a few things Viktor was not good at. He was a fool in money management, and he could not stand against Selena. He gave up each time she insisted on something, even though he knew she was wrong.
I behaved the same way; I gave up whenever Viktor wanted something.
The tension between us was growing. My admiration for them changed to regret. The business was going down, and my energy and motivation went down too. I lost the vision of our future success.
My personal growth slowly changed into a personal crisis. I felt an enormous dissonance between my soul and my mind. I couldn’t do whatever I wanted to. I lost my freedom, and I was fighting for previous years. I should negotiate all my ideas with Viktor and Selena. Many were discarded, and those they accepted were slightly changed. That small change had a big difference in my inside feelings, so I lost the motivation even before realizing the idea.
On the 20th of January, one more live event was scheduled in Moscow, but we lacked time for massive sales.
I paid all the bills for the event with my personal cash. Viktor and Selena owed me a lot of money.
We had made poor sales at the event, so Viktor, for the first time, could not return my debt. I was out of money too.
We had no money to pay our employees. Viktor and Selena were in debt. We had no money in our corporate account, nor did I on my personal account.
I said that we would pay the employees when we had money. Viktor shouted at me, saying that if we couldn’t pay them, we had no business left. He suggested I borrow money from somebody or take the credit for the business.
I refused to take credit from the bank, but I asked my brother if he could help me. I’ve promised him 2% monthly on his money.
Of course, he borrowed me money.
I paid the employees, but the tension inside me was terrible. I cried in silence almost every evening. I didn’t see the way out. I asked God to help me.
His help came in a very unusual way. In the middle of February, we were out of water in our house. We called the house service company. They came and told us the water in the pipes was frozen because of the temperature -of 20C degrees in February. The pipes weren’t deep under the ground, and they could not do anything about it.
That February, even the sea was frozen over. The first time I watched such a beautiful picture, I even walked on the frozen sea. It was very impressive.
We had no money, and we had no water!
Viktor considered it a sign from God to move out of the house. It was a relief for me. I would not take care of Viktor’s family anymore.
On the 1st of March, we moved out of the house. Thank God, one of the customers transferred us enough money so partners could rent the apartments. I came back home to my parents in Lviv.
March was the worst month ever in our partnership. But I didn’t care about Viktor and Selena’s money. I refused to borrow the money again. I told Viktor, “if you need these employees, pay them.” I needed only Anthony, and I paid him.
Of course, Viktor didn’t pay them, but he spoke to each of them, and they stayed with us.
On the 20th of March, I returned to Odessa. Viktor found me a suitable apartment for rent. It was in the elite district of Odessa, just a 10-minute walk from the sea, and the rent was not so expensive.
I felt happiness – I was living alone. I could do whatever I wanted, but not business because we were still partners.
I was running out of money and prayed to God to send me some customers. Out of the blue, I received a message on skype from an unknown guy saying somebody had recommended me and he wanted to work with me.
He quickly transferred me $2500, and we started. It was a great gift from God.
At the end of April, I met with Selena and Viktor. Viktor had great news – one of our customers invited us to Irkutsk to do a live event for the team. She had 30 employees. We sent her an invoice and agreed that she would take care of the hotel and the conference room for the training.
Moreover, we were allowed to sell the event to our readers. We sold the event to 6 people, so there were approximately 35 people at the event.
Despite the money we received, I was terrified because of the upcoming expenses – the air tickets, shopping for all of us, and miscellaneous expenses.
I only asked God to send me a customer for my personal coaching because I had no money left. Without a customer, I could not prolong the rent and would have to return to my parents again.
It was corporate training, and from my experience, employees rarely continue with coaching or trainings. They attended the live training because the boss insisted, but they were not willing to pay their own money for trainings.
I was counting on one or two customers from the 6 who paid separately for the training.
Thank God, one of them was interested in continuing coaching with me and paid. I was saved, but I couldn’t imagine that the end of the partnership was so close.
After the end of the event, I flew home, and my partners left Irkutsk to have a rest.
I was far away from my partners, and suddenly out of the blue, I had an idea – why couldn’t you run your personal business in parallel and have your personal customers? In such a way, you would have 2 businesses – one with partners and the second your own. In your own business, you could do whatever you want. You had the website; you had your personal email subscribers.
That idea motivated me. I felt myself alive.
In a week, my partners came to Odessa, and on the 31st of May, we met to discuss our summer plans.
Viktor and Selena were waiting for my breakthrough ideas, but I said I had none. I admit I was depressed, lacked the motivation to run the business, and felt like a slave. And they added that I wanted to run my personal website.
Viktor became so angry he shouted and blamed me. I listened silently, and suddenly he said, “if you ran your own business simultaneously with ours, let us close our business and part ways.” He said it very emotionally on purpose to make me abandon the idea of running my personal business. Probably he expected me to say: “Sorry! Of course, continue our business”.
I didn’t think about it and didn’t intend to part ways. But I was so depressed last 5 months, and the idea of my personal business was the only thing that motivated me a lot.
Instead of being obedient as always, I said: “I’m 100% sure I want to run my personal business; I want to be free to do whatever I want in my business, and if you’re ready to close our business and part ways, fine, let’s do it”.
He wasn’t ready for that response, but his pride was so immense that he couldn’t change his words.
I was out of his control. I didn’t believe him anymore. He was a great coach and a great salesman, but he was extremely weak at money management and running a business.
I chose freedom over the illusions and left his home. We both knew that our business was over.
I walked through the park, the sun was shining brightly, and it was scorching outside; I was crying – the business was over, I had no money, and I’d lost the prosperous business I had before. I was scared to death, but I gained my freedom. I felt incredibly sorry for myself. Four years from the start of my personal development business, in one month, I was 25, and I had nothing! I was a total failure.