Sunday, October 23, 2005

The short story for today is that I told the partners it just wasn't working out for me to review their spreadsheets after I received them Thursday, that I just had too many events planned with my friends. I told them I'd do what I could while traveling, and I did look at things more again today.

After reviewing their "buy offer" spreadsheets, I drafted an email with these points:

  • I can't agree to a 33% discount for their tax concerns, but since I'm willing to sell to them (the business partners) for less than an outsider, I'd gladly compromise and reduce that part of the formula to 16.5%, splitting the difference with them.
  • They also wanted to reduce the 24-month ROI to 18 months. I told them I didn't agree with that, so I deleted their discount here. (It may end up at 21 months, but I'm not giving up on that one easily, especially not in combination with the first discount.)
  • I told them I didn't agree with their argument for me staying around 12-18 months. That is something you'd do for an outside entity coming into the company brand new, someone that needs to learn how things are done and meet the customers, and I've worked with all of them for five or more years, and that's not necessary. They already know much more about me and our business than an outsider would ever know. So I deleted their discount for this line item.
  • My lawyers seem very opposed to me accepting payments over time, and I would need to talk to them about this. (This was admittedly a stalling tactic on my part, as I already know what my lawyers think.)

Business negotiating

I don't know if I believe in this next part, but I was always taught that in sales negotiating, you should never give up something without getting something else in return. We've always done this with our customers in sales meetings, and I have to say, it does work; whenever a customer wants a discount, we always ask for something in return, and we've always gotten it. So I added to this email that there were some things of personal value to me at the office that I wanted.

There is some furniture I donated to the company in the early days, and I wanted it back. And I also wanted to be able to keep the two work computers I use regularly, as well as some networking equipment and my office desk at home. None of this would affect them, I told them, but they would need to get Jack's approval. Since all of these items have a low worth I didn't expect it to be a problem, but I wanted to have them, and the lawyers said to make sure everything is in writing.

As usual, I haven't told them about the "goodwill" part of the agreement. I'm going to make sure I get the best deal I can before adding that item to the sales agreement. This part feels like dealing with a car dealer; I'm normally extremely direct with dealers when buying a new car ("Here's what I want, here's what I'm willing to pay"), but I also hold a couple of extra requests back until the last moment.

Sending this email out on a Sunday seems precarious. If they don't like my counter-offer for some reason, we're going to start the week in a really bad mood. But if I don't send it to them, they're also going to be upset. Hopefully the 16.5% compromise will be a good start, and they can come back with the 21-month suggestion.

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