Looking back over my career there are several hard lessons I learned through life altering experiences. One was to have talented advisors on my team that have my back and only my personal interests as their focus.
When I was a kid, I wanted to have a career in business. Unsure of what that would be exactly, I did know that it would include traveling all over the country and making deals over the phone.
I used to practice my 'deal making skills' in my teenage bedroom, sitting at my green wooden desk, talking on my yellow rotary dial phone.
Getting ready to graduate High School and go off to college, I weeded through hundreds of college packets I received in the mail and chose the best business school I wanted to attend. When I told my parents I was going to apply to a college up north, my mother immediately shot that idea down and told me I wasn't going to college outside of Florida.
Angry and frustrated I said 'screw it' and I only applied to U.S.F in Tampa. I had gone there to a week long leadership training over the summer, after my junior year and it seemed nice enough.
While attending U.S.F I started my first business, running it out of the college apartment I shared with two roommates ~ a balloon delivery business. There wasn't one on campus and I could market to not only the college students, but also to people in the city of Tampa surrounding the campus.
While running that business, I connected with a serial entrepreneur who was launching a marketing initiative in the Home furnishings industry. Over the next decade we would build a couple of very successful companies together.
At 25, I was president of our company, which was the largest buyer of home furnishings in the country, with Sears & Montgomery Ward as two of our clients.
Being driven by the desire to build the company and acquire the trappings of a successful person, like living in a condo on Bayshore, driving a Lexus, having a Suite at the Ice Palace to entertain clients, and our own plane to travel; I hadn't thought about protecting my interests in the companies we built.
Or about protecting my own wealth personally!
I trusted my business partner. I kept reinvesting money back into the company and I didn't have advisors on my team giving me advice to protect my interests.
The lawyer we used was an attorney my partner had for years before I came along. And our accountant, who I believed to be a friend had worked closely with me for over a year as we went through an IRS audit. I helped him launch his own accounting firm due to my business and the friends and business associates I recommended him to, who began to use him as well.
I thought HE had my back.
But when hell breaks loose you find out who is really on your side and who follows the Money. After 13 years of working together, I decided I didn't want to be in this business relationship any longer. However, separating amicably was not what he wanted. My partner made sure that all my paths were blocked, he took everything from me by changing business records and turning people against me.
I had not protected myself with my own trusted team.
Moving up north ~ I secured my own accountant when I started my next business, and he has been with me for 20 years. I know he is totally on my side. I have an attorney in New Jersey as well, who has helped me through very difficult situations and I trust her advice explicitly. She has proven she has my best interests at heart.
When I came back down to Tampa, I went to an attorney that I knew from years ago and I trusted him. He connected me to a woman business attorney within his firm to assist me with all my company dealings in Florida.
If you don't have a team of advisors that are looking after your interests; not your husband's, not your families, not your investors ~ but 100% there for you, I suggest you find the right players for your team, that do!
Make sure their agenda is your agenda!