Everything is Negotiable

In the early days of YO! there was a very helpful Government Loan Guarantee Scheme, but to qualify I needed to have ten percent investment.

I sold five percent to my childhood friend Matthew Gibb and five percent to Pierre Therond.

Pierre questioned everything and I don’t blame him. They both went on to do well from their investment, but at the time it was annoying and to placate him about what I should be paid I suggested that I take one percent of takings as a salary. This was not only acceptable but much encouraged, as it created an incentive for everyone.

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At the first sale of YO! Sushi I insisted on retaining my one percent of turnover as a founder’s royalty in perpetuity. Musicians used to get royalties, inventors sometimes do, but I never heard of a retail founder doing such a thing – but I did, and cleverly it was a modest royalty so not too threatening, at the outset at least. It worked and has gone on to be set in stone and a solid part of my business.

My opposite number at Primary Capital, Merrick McKay was his name, years later asked me what I was thinking during the negotiations. “Well… bottom line, on reflection, I thought I would be lucky to get away with it.” I said. “OMG!” he exclaimed, “We thought you were such a maverick you’d walk away.”

You have to persuade yourself that you absolutely don’t care what happens. If you don’t care, you’ve won. I absolutely promise you, in every serious negotiation, the man or woman who doesn’t care is going to win.

Felix Dennis

Good old Felix Denis, RIP.  This is probably the best advice in this entire book. In any negotiation I like to have what I call a BATNA which stands for Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement, what I would do if we cannot reach an agreement or at very least what it is imagined by the other party that I would do. Otherwise in a hard-headed negotiation why wouldn’t they walk all over me?

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For entrepreneurs and freelancers, the ability to negotiate is fundamental. What you earn will always be a function of the value you provide, multiplied by your ability to negotiate. These discussions will have an enormous impact on your life, so while they may not come up very often, try to prepare and train your negotiating skills as much as you can.

Everything is negotiable if you can keep discussions sweet, go round stone walls, build golden bridges and stick to your guns. And yes, you can cave in gracefully if you have to, but so can they, and it’s worth a try…