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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I Did What?

As the entrepreneur you get rather passionate about your company and technology.  You spend hours and hours learning about the new business and all aspects about it.  So it is not too uncommon to get rather defensive when asked questions by potential investors and partners.  This is especially when you have been asked things that seem to be contrary to your belief of the subject matter.

On the other hand, maybe you are in a partnering meeting.  You get into a heated debate about an aspect of your business or technology with one of the team members from the other side.  Why not, you have a lot at stake and want to show your stuff and have them be your partner.  Your passion will show through.

Both of these scenarios are rather common.  No matter how you describe it, you are debating a person on the other side.  Sometimes, the other team members come to the table and you may not have learned about them in advance.  You get back to the office and one of your colleagues says “by the way, did you know that person was the world authority on the subject.”  Of course, you are now are thinking “I DID WHAT.” Well get over it, this will happen a lot over your time with the company.  If you are careful, you may be able to do it without coming off looking like an ASS.

A few suggestions:

1.     Before every critical meeting, request in advance the names of the people that will attend from the other side.  Then look up as much as you can about their backgrounds before you attend the meeting.

2.     Establish an agenda and get it agreed to by both parties.  This way you will be somewhat prepared and possibly have supporting materials with you.

3.     Remember that is ok to disagree and try to prove your point.  Nothing wrong in trying to demonstrate your understanding of the business and technology is solid.  Just try to not over do it and go beyond your level of understanding.  Never make up information, be overly argumentative, or ugly to the other party.  Certainly refrain from name calling.

4.     You may only be partly right.  It would not be the first time the world expert would know a bit more than the entrepreneur.  While you may have part of the facts of the case, listen to what the other side is saying.  Check it out later.  It may help you improve.

5.     Never get angry or defensive it is kind of a debate, it is not a slug fest. The only winners are those that make money not win fights.  For sure never leave on an angry note.  You may have to work with this person later and you will regret your past words.

6.     If you are right, do not gloat and/or do a victory dance!  This may be just as bad as a slug fest.  Always try to leave the other side with the will or desire to work with you in the future. 

One rule of thumb which was learned the hard way over the years.  “Be nice to everyone around you, you never know who your boss will be next.”  Sounds silly, but it is not possible to count the number of times paths cross in other businesses.  One of the people you made angry earlier, could be running a company that buys yours! Take it from a worlds expert on this subject.

  Taffy Williams is the author of:  Think Agile:  How Smart Entrepreneurs Adapt in Order to Succeed to via Amazon