How many times, in your plight to create a handshake, or business relationship with someone in any walk of life, have you gotten a verbal commitment, only to have that person seemingly drop off the face of the earth when it’s time to execute? Better yet, how many times have you reached out to someone with the intentions of attempting to create some sort of a starting point for a business relationship only to be ignored completely? This can be an extremely frustrating feeling when trying to find work, or progress your business in a fragmented market place. Sometimes it amazes me that although we are in the fight business, many of those behind the scenes are some of the most non-confrontational individuals on the planet. This is good and bad. Non confrontational good- in that some operate at a level headed pace, and understand business and look to run their business smoothly. Non confrontational bad- in that those who avoid conflict by virtually disappearing, refusing to return phone calls and messages, when a verbal or even sometimes a written agreement has been put in place, ultimately leaves the working party scrambling to try and compensate due to the lack of respect by “Mr. or Mrs. MIA” to honor an agreement.
It is 21st Century fight business, we understand the times we live in, the economy and people’s lives. Everyone struggles on some level at some point. Everyone feels the effect of a down economy. And for small businesses within MMA, they feel the effects of trying to grow their business without being swallowed up by the larger companies and major corporations. Often times because there is no one extending a hand from the upper level, so they are forced to dig in, give away more merchandise than maybe they had budgeted for, cannot compensate in terms of a return on investment, and ultimately fold. You hear people all the time talk about the fight business being corrupt at the “major league” level. We see chat rooms, editorials, forums and rants on conspiracy theories as to why their favorite fighter was cut from a promotion, or because the fighter they love to hate most is catching a break. If there is any sort of “corruption”, or “bad business” (better term) taking place in the business, it is certainly at the lower, local and mid levels of mixed martial arts all over the US and abroad. When you have so called “companies” who will quickly scoop up your money and promise you a cage, gear, training equipment, whatever it is you may need, only for them to vanish, and its times like these that not only break people financially, and break their spirits of ever trying to achieve their goal of running a successful MMA business.
So here is where we stand, in a parallel universe of mid level MMA, where the snakes, scumbags, hard workers, jaded entrepreneurs, hustlers and paranoid individuals reside. Myself personally, I have always had an open door policy for any potential client to contact ANY of the 100 plus previous clients that I’ve worked with in the past as a reference. I too, have been burned, trusting someone where I would do work for them, with the agreement that they would pay on the back end, only to never come thru. In the end, lesson learned. And there is no need to put names out there for past clients who refused to pay, I can just tell you that it’s nice to have the former head attorney of Pride Fighting Championship as your attorney. Since the first incident I have always required payment up front, for that very reason.
But what about those honest people on the other end, who too, have been burned, who stand on the opposite side of the table, where I require upfront payment and they refuse to pay until the product is finished because of a past experience. This is where, if the two parties are genuine in their respective entities, a compromise can be made. There is no guideline in these situations. It becomes a case by case basis, where the two acting parties air their concerns early, have a written agreement, and stick to it. For those of you who are one of those who have entered into an agreement with someone and something has taken place within your own personal/ professional life to prevent you from upholding your end of a deal, the worst thing you can do is not respond. If you fall behind in your car payments (yes I know A LOT about that) and the bank is calling you 40 times a day, it does no good to continue to mute your phone, because eventually they will come and take your vehicle. I guarantee you, if you answer the phone, tell them what’s going on and why you haven’t been able to pay, they will work with you. The same respect should be given to your colleague whom you have decided to go into business with, whether written OR verbal agreement.
At the end of the day, we all want the same goals. We want to be successful in the industry that we love so much. If the big timers big-time you, so what? You keep doing what you do, celebrate the small victories along the way and prepare for the bigger ones. Those companies at the top currently have been through what we’re going through, only they did it 5 or 10 years ago. If you wish to do business, do so in an honest manner, be real, with yourself and with your counterparts, don’t over-commit. If you do, then keep communication lines open with your partners, give them something that lets them know that you haven’t abandoned them, and if you do want out, express that so you can part ways and the person on the other side of the table can move on. And if you ever leave someone with a “I’ll get back to you” or a “Hit me back on Friday”, when they reach back out, at least have the common courtesy and business sense to reply back. Sometimes “No” is better than no response at all.
*Mikey Rukus creates Custom Theme Music and Walkout Music for MMA Companies and Fighters Worldwide- to view his body of work please visit www.soundclick.com/mikeyrukus
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