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Law of the Land

Master the six laws of money.

Stripped of perfunctory niceties, business is war, and every deal is a hostage exchange. So make sure you get what's coming to you by mastering these six laws of money.

1. Money sooner is better than money later. Eliminate the risk of not getting paid by getting your money upfront. This also tests whether the other side is serious.

2. Go to the source. Paul could wait until John gets cash from Peter, but if I were Paul, I'd rather call Peter myself. The names may be confusing, but the lesson's simple: Go upstream.

3. Get the best money you can. Cash beats a check, and a certified check beats a personal one. And anything beats a verbal IOU.

4. Don't spend money you don't have. If relying on outside financing, don't commit to pay anyone else until you're sure your financier will step up to the plate.

5. Don't throw good money after bad. If you're footing the bill, reserve the right to pull the plug.

6. Get the right to offset. Savvy buyers won't pay everything when a deal closes. They insist on the right to hold back money to cover against future problems.

A speaker and attorney in Los Angeles, Marc Diener is author of Deal Power.

This story appears in the October 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »