Nowadays, it’s almost impossible to find partners whose goals are similar to yours, meaning that negotiating and building a partnership is harder than it seems. If you want to make sure that your partnership will benefit all parties, you should go by the book. Don’t let lawyers handle everything, as partnerships involve a shared vision that cannot be accomplished unless you do your best.
Some business owners don’t really know what negotiation is, and in order to answer to their questions we should point out what negotiation isn’t: an activity whose goal is to make the other person wrong. Negotiation implies exploring the position of each partner, in an attempt to find a solution that is mutually acceptable.
Before attending a negotiation, you may be wondering whether your negotiation skills are good enough. However, avoiding negotiations is not beneficial for your relationship, as it creates more distance between you and your partners. A healthy relationship is that in which two people solve their problems by suggesting solutions designed to please both of them.
Tips that will help you negotiate easier with your partner
First of all, every negotiation should start with establishing a few ground rules, such as no yelling, no name-calling and no blaming. Then, you should continue to describe the disagreement between you, focusing on the issue that needs to be resolved. A negotiation between two professionals is based on taking turns when talking about concerns or desires raised by disagreement. Besides, you should ask as many questions as you can, in order to get a better picture about your partner’s points of view and feelings.
Focus on business
You cannot have a good business relationship if you don’t pay attention to both shared and individual goals. Everybody wants to make as much money as possible, but partnerships aren’t only about sharing the costs of the services you provide to your customers, but also about splitting revenues. Try to make a thorough analysis related to what the benefits that your company brings to your partners and vice versa.
Besides, don’t turn to lawyers without making sure that you’ve talked openly about your business goals. There are certain aspects you should take into consideration, such as shared revenue, final deliverables, and what will happen to your company if the partnership fails. Once you’ve answered these questions, your partnership will no longer seem something unsure and vague. It’s true that lawyers can also provide you with these answers, but they usually focus on details, overlooking the overall situation.
Every partnership involves distribution commitments. These commitments usually involve delivering products or simply distributing a message. Regardless of the distribution or content end of your partnership, you should make sure that the tasks of each company are well established. Defining the roles that every partner should play is very important, as it avoids placing the blame on each other in case something goes wrong.
Hire experienced counsel
Whenever you want to exchange the drafts of your contracts, you are advised to turn to experienced lawyers. Never try to draft a very complex agreement with a serious company without being counseled by a lawyer. Serious companies have their own contracting attorney, which means that you should hire one too. There were cases in which entrepreneurs wanted to save money by ignoring the importance of an attorney on their first contracts and ended up giving away a large amount of intellectual property without even knowing.
Before hiring a lawyer to help you go through this process, try to establish the level of complexity implied by the agreement. If you have to deal with a highly complex one, you will need an attorney with a high level of experience. Once you’re provided with legal counsel, ask him/her as many questions related to the “protective provisions” as you can. The goal of these provisions is to protect the larger company involved in the partnership in case the smaller one is sold. Sometimes, big companies can disrupt the process of selling your company, so protective provisions should really be taken into account.
Negotiations imply a wide array of skills that cannot be gained without practice. However, your efforts will pay off when you see that you’ve managed to build a strong relationship with your partner. If you learn to pay attention to your partner, you’ll definitely manage to achieve all your goals together
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