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Making a List An agenda lets you negotiate with confidence.

By Marc Diener

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Entering a negotiation without a clear list of what you want islike driving cross-country without a map. To negotiate well, youmust first know your agenda. There is no better way than to writeit down.

Step back, and think about your deal. Brainstorm: List what youwant, and list what you don't want. Be specific. Then, groupand prioritize these items into categories--points you must have,those you'd really like to have and those that areinsignificant. Find a friend or colleague to be a sounding board,or consult a professional or other resource to learn what iscustomary in a transaction like yours.

This advice may seem trite, but don't skip it. It'ssurprisingly powerful. For one thing, your checklist will keep youfrom missing a key deal term or concession. It also lays out yourbottom line. But even more important, having specific goals willgive you the focus, energy and self-confidence to negotiate on yourterms. In business, attitude can be everything. The strength thatcomes from knowing what you want will give you power when you sitdown at the negotiating table.

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