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Making It Work Vendor relations are key to startup success. Here's how to hit it off.

By Nichole L. Torres

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Take this primer from Kerry Patterson, co-author of Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, on how to excel in vendor relations at startup.

Entrepreneur: How can you make sure you have appropriate professional boundaries with your vendors?
Kerry Patterson: To set clear expectations, first address the product or service specs. Specs include quantity, price, deadline and quality. When clarifying each, provide precise constraints, using numbers when possible. For instance, never tell a vendor you need a product ASAP. That merely communicates a sense of urgency, not a real deadline. Instead, explain that you need it no later than 3 p.m. tomorrow, for example. When clarifying your quality standards, use a picture or an actual prototype to identify what you need and don't need. All this goes a long way toward avoiding violated expectations. You may also avert common potential problems by clarifying mistakes you want to avoid.