Only fools rush in. We’ve all heard that expression many times and probably think we’re far too wise and experienced to be such a fool. However, you’d be amazed at how often businesses and individuals rush headlong into business relationships or contracts only to find out they should have used more discretion, patience and judgment. Remember, before you date someone, you usually want to know at least a little bit about them; before you go steady, you want to know a little more; and before you get married, you really want to know them well.
Consider applying some of these dating lessons and clichés to your business and legal relationships and contracts, and you may find you have fewer emotional breakups or (more importantly) fewer bad marriages that end in messy divorces:
Ask around (a/k/a, do your due diligence) – learn all you can about a person or company before you engage them, become partners or enter into a long term binding contract.
Trust your instincts (a/k/a, if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it) – unless there’s some compelling reason you have to work with a specific person or company or you have to jump into a deal with both feet, if you’re getting a bad vibe, don’t proceed.
- Go slowly (a/k/a, – start small) – whenever possible, start with a smaller project or a short term relationship and see how it goes. There’s usually time and there will almost always be more opportunities to work together if the first one goes well.
- Build in an escape hatch (a/k/a, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket) – even if you’re ready to hire someone or enter into a contract, make sure you have the ability to terminate or get out of the relationship.
- See other people (a/k/a, avoid exclusivity) – exclusive relationships are serious commitments and have high risk (and potentially, high reward); take your time.
- There are more fish in the sea (a/k/a, know when to say when) – ending a bad relationship is always hard – whether personal or business – but when your gut tells you it’s not right, then it probably isn’t. Cut your losses and end the relationship (in the right way, of course).
The bottom line is, business and legal relationships resemble personal relationships – with the same types of risks and rewards. Look before you leap.