Image of a double bullseye

Do You Leave Anything For Later?

Image of a double bullseye

I had an experience recently that caused me to think about when you should consider the concept of “now vs. later”. It’s a tough challenge for me when it comes to financial matters and negotiation. I’m way too focused on my outcome and rarely think about the long-term effects of a hard-fought deal. What I thought about recently, and have come to understand, is it’s about perspective, really.

Are you a short-term or a long-term thinker?

Those interested in the short-term will take as much as they can. Push, pull and prod for every ounce of control, power and positioning that is available to them. I’ve been this person more than I’d care to admit. The longer term planner is willing to take less and perhaps give up more than they have to or need to. The reasoning behind this is because someday down the road they believe that this gesture will ultimately be returned in-kind to them in one way or another.

They are willing to wait for some of the payoff.

It doesn’t mean they expect one – it just means that they are willing to err on the side of a good deed returned. Like Karma or a “what comes around, goes around” type of thing. I have made a conscious effort to become more of a longer term thinker. It doesn’t come naturally as my default is BULLDOG. Anyone that knows me will tell you that I am anything but a pushover.

I am a tough negotiator.

Over time I have learned to try to see both sides of the equation though. While I’m not where I want to be, I try equally hard to balance out the long-term and short-term value of a relationship. I want to include that value into my negotiating. I don’t always strike the right balance, but it’s my intent. In terms of partner relationships, this longer term perspective is particularly critical. In almost every case my partners did not ask me to sacrifice – I came to them with the suggestion. Each time it has not only been on the side of equitable, but it has paid back excellent long-term dividends. The true “win-win”. This matters to me and it should matter to you.

Our reputation as a partner is one we should value even higher than our reputation as an entrepreneur.

I want everyone who has been in a partnership with me to say “He is a great partner to have – tough, but honest and fair. I would partner with him again.” As any entrepreneur or business person will note, not everyone is going to be your fan. I’ve ticked plenty of people off. You will too. That’s part of the deal. However, this type of partner quote will only be achieved if we keep the long-term, big picture perspective in mind. When you are in a business negotiation, a partnership discussion or any other situation where there is supposed to be a “winner”, keep in mind that there really can be two winners if you are willing to sacrifice some short-term gains for long-term value.

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About Alex Lawrence

Alex has been a successful entrepreneur for 20+ years. His current venture Lendio ranks #34 on the Inc. 500 list. Alex earned a BS degree at the University of Utah and his MBA at Weber State University, where he is Vice Provost and Director of the Entrepreneurship Program. If you want to talk with Alex about business and entrepreneurship (or other questions), email him (alex AT startupflavor DOT com), or you can find him on Twitter @_AlexLawrence.
  • I’m a really crappy negotiator. Like, the worst. I’m a win-win thinker, and I forget that not everyone else is, so that sometimes causes me some pain. That said, I love how you’re looking at this.

    I like the idea of doing as much as I can and giving as much as I can.

    Loved reading this. Thank you. : )

    • Alex Lawrence

      Chris – first of all, thanks so much for your comment. I really am a big fan of you and your work, so your comments are particularly meaningful. Now, regarding your comment: I can see you being “too nice” sometimes. I suppose if that were on your tombstone, there are worse things to be called! Maybe we should take a bit of each others style and combine for the ultimate win-win-win (triple win!). “Doing as much as I can and giving as much as I can.” – what a terrific way to describe it.

  • I believe in “what comes around goes around”. I have seen many people that treat people bad or do bad things get bad things in return. I have also seen many people that try to do everything as fair as possible and their lives seem to be right where they want or at least on the right track.

    • Alex Lawrence

      J.R. – isn’t it nice to see Karma work sometimes? I wish it were that way all the time. It would keep people (including me!) more on track with always trying to make the best choices.

  • Reputations are created every day and every minute.” unknown

    As a child growing up in the rural South, we were taught that our reputations were one of our most valuable assets. Now as an adult, I still adhere to these teaching.

    Your comment about two winners is very appealing in the business world.

    • Alex Lawrence

      Totally agree – reputation is an undervalued asset nowadays.

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