“Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.”-John Fitzgerald Kennedy
When reading through the chapters associated with negotiating in Winning Angels by Amis and Stevenson, I was reminded of this extraordinary quote from Kennedy which sets the precedent for me on the art of negotiations. As Amis and Stevenson put it, “the whole idea of negotiation is that both sides be better off after making the deal.” And, I couldn’t agree more. For me, whether undertaking the role as the entrepreneur or the investor, it is critical to understand every aspect of the deal so that my partners feel they are being legitimately compensated accordingly for their time, efforts and any money they’ve invested in the venture. I want to ensure that anyone who is associated feels that they are treated impartially and will subsequently want to do business should future opportunities arise. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, right?
Although I understand that emotions have to be separated from business, I will always put a certain degree of feelings into anything I’m doing because I am passionate about my work. Because of this I want to assure my partners that their voices will also be heard, understood, and utilized in the decision-making process. Amis and Stevenson assert, “Just as you seek to advance the full set of your interests, the other side(s) will be doing the exact same thing. You should make assessing the full set of their interests a central part of your negotiation strategy.” They also go on further to note that in most cases, “A way to move stalled negotiations forward is to look behind conflicting positions to understand deeper interests.” In my opinion, when business partners are willing to go the extra mile to satisfy their colleagues it makes for a more gratifying experience once everyone’s interests are recognized, examined, and aligned to see how they can be structured to form the best deal for the venture to be viable, not just in the present but the future as well.
Amis and Stevenson note, “By giving the entrepreneur their own proposed terms, it should be hard for them to regret it later.” They further expound on this idea perceiving that, “Connecting ownership to performance is a productive way to let them have their pie if they can do a great job baking it.” Although these business relationships should be built on a foundation of trust and integrity, as my colleague Trip Cogburn pointed out, this is not always a possibility. When business partners begin to collaborate on a deal, if they are unfamiliar with each other, this trust has to be earned and this task will not be completed in a day (that saying about Rome is fitting here). With that in mind it is crucial to negotiate intuitively and intelligently to build this relationship and consequently garner the trust that will be essential in making the important decisions down the road that will propel the organization to new levels of success. Amis and Stevenson remind their audience that, “aggressive negotiating does not foster trust.”
In the event the negotiations cannot be completed objectively, hiring an attorney is always a judicious way to guarantee that the interests of everyone involved are protected and endorsed. If for some reason, the entrepreneur or investor is against this approach then you probably shouldn’t do business with them in the first place. I’ll leave you with yet another sound quote from my ole’ friend John (love this song), “You cannot negotiate with people who say what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable.” And honestly, who would want to?
A quote by John F. Kennedy. (n.d.). Retrieved June 18, 2020, from https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/804139-we-cannot-negotiate-with-people-who-say-what-s-mine-is
A quote by John F. Kennedy. (n.d.). Retrieved June 18, 2020, from https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/24920-let-us-never-negotiate-out-of-fear-but-let-us
Amis, D., & Stevenson, H. H. (2001). Winning angels: The seven fundamentals of early-stage investing. London: Financial Times Prentice Hall.