“It’s never been done this way.”
“We have our Standard Operating Procedure to follow.”
As small business owners, we often believe we are at the beck and call of larger companies.
We feel compelled to follow their rules and meekly do so for many reasons. After all, they are the ones with huge pots of money to dole out.
We have so many good reasons why we want a particular big company to be our exclusive client. Bragging rights, for instance.
We hope the business will be long-term (well, doesn’t everyone spout that?). These days, long-term could be just 2 months given the lifespan of many companies!
We hope this big-time client will refer more business our way (wish again. If you don’t ask for referrals, you won’t get them.)
We hope to land that one big fish which will set our company on its path to prosperity for life (when life is probably the next 2 years before a new CEO comes and shakes things up).
We hope that this will be our big break – where we get a prestigious client and get to show him or her off to potential clients.
That is why as small business owners, we are sometimes excited yet fearful when a big company comes a-calling. We nervously want their business but we’re so afraid to negotiate because we could (gasp) lose the deal if we ask too much, set too many rules or not follow THEIR rules.
Here’s An Exercise For Your Mind
But what if, for instance, you (yes, you the small business owner) decided to stand up and refuse to follow stupid rules set by these companies?
What if you decided that their payment procedures sucked?
What if you decided that you are going to set some rules of your own instead of always toeing their line?
What if you brought these issues to the negotiating table?
What would happen?
What if you’re not afraid to walk away from the money, regardless of the outcome of your negotiation?
What if you stood up for yourself, your beliefs and the sanity of your company?
You see, small business owners don’t have to take rubbish from clients who think they can wield their power (usually in the form of money) over them.
Why do small business owners end up harried and frazzled? Because most of them let money be their master.
“We need to finish this up by this Friday,” the Boss barks.
“Because the Client said so.”
Or this scenario: “I need this urgently on Monday and I am willing to pay good money for it.”
(The request comes in on a Friday evening and you know you have to work again like a dog over the weekend.)
Actually it’s because Money said so. You want the money, you work like a dog. And still, you get the money 60 days or 90 days later!
And many small business owners accept this. Makes me so hopping mad when I hear this corporate bullying.
Granted, you can only set your own terms in any negotiation deal IF you have something no other company can offer. You have to be that unique provider which makes them feel that they will lose something utterly valuable if they refuse to see your point of view.
Why Most People Just Give In
You cannot negotiate a deal if you have nothing to offer. Nothing to distinguish your company from the next company.
And perhaps, worst of all, it’s because you have no spunk. No balls. No gall.
You see, there is sometimes no difference being a business owner and being employed. When you’re employed, you hate your boss because he makes you do things you don’t want to do.
When you’re a business owner, you should have a choice but most “business owners” do what their Clients tell them to do and most business owners gripe and complain on the side. Still they do it because the Client is always right? (Or is it because Money is always right?)
But I Can’t Say No To Money! Errr…Or Can I?
Does this mean that you shouldn’t even bother with Money?
I say, be very concerned about the Money. It is a fair exchange for the honest work you do for your Client. It is work which benefits your client, keeps them happy and satisfied. But there are times when you are called to make a tough decision between choosing money or choosing sanity.
Let me explain.
Let’s say ABC Company says that they want your service. They’re willing to pay because they want it urgently. So you give them a quote. Because they’re so damn pressed for time and you’re the only one who (insanely) agrees to do it for them in 7 days, they agree to your quote. (Here’s the caveat – YOU must be damn sure you can produce what you promised in the next 7 days.)
Now here’s the fun part.
They have Standard Operating Procedures which means they have rules to follow.
But they forgot you have rules that you’ve set out too. Only that they forget you have rules. Or they think any minion of a company will forego any rules in order to work with them. (That is why we hate big corporations right?)
“After all, we’re such a big company. You should count yourself lucky to be able to touch our feet.”
Your rules and their rules clash. So begins the negotiation process. They say they will pay you but according to their rules – within 60 days. You want a deposit (they shake their heads). You want to be paid within your number of days (they shake their heads) because let’s not forget, this is a super urgent project, they need it in 7 days and you know you can fulfill it and still they won’t bend over backwards to accommodate your requests?
Who makes these rules anyway?
Rules are for the common vendors and suppliers. This is an uncommon request. And anyway we’ve always worked this way and none of our clients have issues. Why does ABC have a problem with it?
Why Business Is Like Playing Poker
Business is very much like sitting at the poker table.
Every move is a risk. You can risk small or you can risk big. Risking big has its rewards. You can lose big too.
In any negotiation, you need to know what position you are in. Whether you are willing to risk and whether it’s worth to risk it all.
In the above case, ABC had everything to lose (no project done if the deal falls through). Yet like any big company, they forgot that they were the ones with their heads on the chopping block if they did not get the project done.
We could be on the losing end too (again, if the deal falls through). That also means, how much are we willing to risk?
Could we walk away from the deal? Could we say, you take your SOP and do whatever you want with it?
Here is where Money starts to tighten its noose around you. The idea of money is tempting. It’s cashflow (though delayed by 60 days if you agree to their SOP).
Do you take the deal, work like crazy through your weekend (because you do have to work like a dog) and then wait 60 days to get paid OR do you insist on your terms (50% deposit now and the remaining when the project is done)?
I’d love to hear your views.