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Pick Your Battles Are you really outgunned, or are you just being outmaneuvered? find out how to tell the difference.

By Marc Diener

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

I take strong issue with negotiating gurus who declare thateverything is negotiable. That just ain't so. Perhaps there ismore room to bargain than we sometimes imagine. But when you'rethe little guy, expect your opponents to protect their time andposition by steamrolling you.

According to ancient Chinese military genius Sun Tzu, "Hewho knows when he can fight and when he cannot will bevictorious." As always, put yourself in the other side'sshoes. Businesses often establish uniform policies to help them runsmoothly and economically-policies that, for good reason, are setin stone. A large company isn't likely to retool its accountingsystem, product line or management structure on demand. To dootherwise invites confusion in the ranks, mistakes and potentialliability. This rationale we can accept.

At other times, however, taking an issue off the table is justanother way to bully you. The trick is knowing the difference.Here, the value of your business network becomes obvious. Your bestsources of information are either inside that company or have yearsof experience negotiating against it. In some cases, the type ofbusiness intelligence you need can be bought from professionals orvarious kinds of information brokers. And if you're feelinglucky, try the Internet. There are pearls in the public record;Google and other search engines may help you find them.

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