Needful Things

Your Wish List

Great dealmakers are also great list-makers. Putting your list in writing is the second step to effective goal-setting. Start by identifying all the things you want and all the things you don't. Go into detail. Then group and prioritize these goals into what you must have, what you'd really like to have and what you can take or leave. Make this exercise even more effective by getting someone to act as a sounding board and listen to your ideas. Or consult a professional, such as an attorney, or other resources (books, magazines or the Internet, for example) to find out what each side typically gets in a deal like yours.

I know this may seem like undistinguished advice, and the exercise so simple-minded you'll want to skip it. Don't. It is remarkably powerful. At its most basic, your checklist will keep you from missing something, from forgetting to insist on an important deal term or concession. It also articulates your bottom line--the minimum you'll accept before walking away. But even more important, having clear, specific goals gives you the focus, energy and self-confidence to negotiate on your terms. In business, attitude can be everything. And the strength that comes from knowing exactly what you want translates to true power at the bargaining table.

A speaker and attorney in Los Angeles, Marc Diener is the author of Deal Power: 6 Foolproof Steps to Making Deals of Any Size (Owl Books/Henry Holt). You can reach him at

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This article was originally published in the January 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Needful Things.

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