I have seen some incredibly stupid moves in negotiations recently. People have walked away from being within a few dollars of a huge win to face the prospect of getting nothing or potentially having to pay a huge sum. Crazy.
If you were about to get a million dollars for something worth a fraction of that, would you walk away if you had to settle at slightly less? Whoa, that’s dumb. Once the real valuation shows up, your potential deal is dead. Risk it? We watch too much TV. Business is not a game show.
I know someone who recently took out a second mortgage to fund what they thought was going to be a big lottery win. I pleaded not to do it. Greed is thicker than blood and thousands of dollars went off to Jamaica. No million dollars ever showed up. Oooops.
So we let greed tell us we deserve to win. We let greed tell us we deserve a payment from someone who cannot deliver. Business people put hundreds of thousands of dollars into businesses that they ruin and then expect a buyer to at least “cover what I have in it”. Stupid. Be grateful you have a buyer and work with that buyer until you can close a deal. Good grief. We all think we are worth more than we are. But when that blind-spot prevents someone from collecting a big win because ego says “more”, it hurts. Too many times I see it end in ashes.
When to quit?
Have you considered the alternative to having your negotiations fail? Most don’t. Almost any negotiated agreement is superior to a court awarded ‘victory’ except in cases of injury or liability. If you can work it out, do so. Have you considered the cost of a prolonged process? Do you want to win or prove a point? Believe me, it’s far better to win than to prove a point nobody cares about. I’ve sold businesses. I sold one 2 weeks before I planned to close it and move. A buyer showed up and offered less than I wanted. We haggled a bit but I realized that I was getting a gift. Sure, the business was worth more but I was going to close it and walk away because I was planning to move to the country. I could have fought for more. Instead I helped the buyer secure a new, great lease with my landlord. I worked hard for the buyer. The price was acceptable. And after I started getting those checks in the mail I realized what a great deal I had made.
Once the checks start rolling in, that big concession you made will seem like nothing. That happens every time.
By the way, the real loser is the one who stops the conversation. Public opinion doesn’t respect that nor do courts.
If your business is in the middle of a dispute, keep talking. You’ll get there eventually and it will be cheaper than hiring gladiators.
Chris Reich, TeachU