Friday, February 12, 2010

Are advanced entrepreneurs good negotiators?

Not ususally. But, they don't realize they are poor negotiators. So what?

In order to capture the attention of advanced entrepreneurs, I often point out that entrepreneurial businesses make life or death decisions several times per year (sometimes per month), while a large company may make a life and death decision once every five years. Therefore, the liklihood of making a mistake that leads to the entrepreneurial business feeling compelled to be acquired or worse, going out of business, is very high.

Many of the mistakes result from a failure to successfuly negotiate a strategically important transaction or relationship. Why is this? First, most entrepreneurs, like most executives, believe the ability to negotiate effectively is a natural talent (which is not true). As a result, they fail to take courses to develop negotiating skills. Second, the entrepreneur fails to follow the number one rule in negotiation - be better prepared than the other side!

Every entrepreneur will be involved in heavy duty negotiations with people on the other side who are more skilled at negotiating than the entrepreneur. Yet, the entrepreneur believes his or her common sense will be enough to do well in the negotiation. Not even close!

Hiring a lawyer or other expert to negotiate for you is expensive and, often, not very helpful since the lawyer or other expert probably does not fully understand the context in which the negotiation is taking place. Only you have a keen appreciation of the trade offs you may make to get the deal or transaction done. It is easier for you to learn how to negotiate than it is to bring the lawyer or expert up to speed about your business.

Every entrepreneur should take a mini-course in negotiation from the local university or one of the firms that advertise in the airline magazines offering weekend programs on negotiation. This will be one of the best investments of time and money an entrepreneur can make.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Bill, your posts are very informative and insightful. I am an aspiring entrepreneur interested in owning and operating a convenience store in the Bangor, Maine area. I am an avid student of business management and entrepreneurship, so your blogs are very helpful to me.

    I hope I can contribute to this site in some way.

    Daniel Wing