Fortunately, my attorney asked me an
important question, one that changed my life. Running with
“What would be a good outcome regardless of
what happened to the other guy?” As a result, the big dogs
even though I was the wronged party, I ended ABOUT A MILLION new
up paying. business ventures are
RHONDA ABRAMS: STRATEGIES
newest book is The
Owner’s Manual for
Small Business. For
more tips, see www.
dispute. The other party had violated the terms
of an important contract. I was furious. I wanted
him to pay—and pay big!
It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever launched each year in this
made. I came away with my victory. So what if country. In such a fiercely
the miserable guy on the other side walked away competitive environment,
with some of my money? how does one business set
How do you learn to settle for victory? itself apart from the pack?
First, in a dispute, keep an open mind and think The ways that successful
of different options that might work for you. If compan ies succeed where
YEARS AGO, I LEARNED an important lesson I you have only one position, you’re not negotiat- others fail are highlighted
remember whenever I’m involved in a negotia- ing, you’re demanding. in Alpha Dogs:
tion or dispute: “Settle for victory.” Next, communicate. Once you stop talking, How Your Small
Sometimes, in the midst of a conflict, we there’s no hope of a positive outcome. Things Business Can
become so obsessed with defeating the other don’t get better just because you’re ignoring Become a
guy that we lose sight of what constitutes a win each other. Try hard not to take things personally. Leader of
for ourselves. We’re angry or hurt, so we want to The other party may suggest approaches you the Pack
inflict pain on the source. That’s rarely the best find insulting. Remember to look for what (Collins, 2005)
route to our own future happiness. works for you in the long run, even if it hurts by Costco
Instead, learn how to focus on getting a your pride today. member
positive outcome for yourself rather than punish- Finally, look for win-win solutions, where Donna Fenn
ment for the other guy. both sides leave with something. Remember, for ( www.donnafenn.com). Fenn
I learned the importance of settling for you to come away with a victory doesn’t mean has profiled entrepreneurs
victory when I was involved in a major business the other guy has to suffer a defeat. C and covered business trends
for 20 years as a journalist.
She spotlights eight
Take the work out of networking “Alpha Dog” small busi-
nesses that have pursued a
specific strategy to become
• Get somebody to talk a market leader.
about why they’re attending These Alpha Dogs have
the event and you are on excelled in customer service,
your way to engaging them tapped technology, devel-in conversation. oped a strong brand, formed
• Listen carefully for alliances and taken other cre-information that can keep ative steps in building their
the conversation going. businesses, Fenn writes.
• When asked, “How’s Take, for example,
business?” or “What’s going Zane’s Cycles in Branford,
on?” answer with more than Connecticut. In a time when
“Pretty good” or “Not independent bike dealers are
FOR MOST OF US, making
small talk at business and
social events is about as
pleasant as a paper cut.
But these encounters don’t
have to be so dreaded,
advises Debra Fine, a
professional speaker and
with people and leave a pos- much.” Tell more about being pushed out by national
itive impression that lasts yourself so that others can chains and online dealers,
longer than an exchange of learn more about you. Zane’s Cycles has managed
business cards,” she says. • Be prepared. Spend a not only to survive but to
Fine, who wrote a book few minutes before an antici- become one of the largest
on the matter, The Fine Art pated event preparing to talk dealers of Trek bicycles in the
of Small Talk (Hyperion, easily about three topics. world. The key to this Alpha
2005), offers these tips for • Have exit lines. You Dog’s success is a rabid cus-improving small-talk skills. need to move around and tomer-service philosophy.
Instead, small talk is a
chance to make a good first
impression, which can lead
to deeper, more productive
relationships, says Fine,
a Costco member based
• Be the first to say hello meet others. The most important point
and introduce yourself. Act • Make a positive that Fenn makes in her book
as if you’re the host and impression by shaking is this: Alpha Dogs have a lot
introduce new arrivals to hands and saying goodbye to offer any business owner.
your conversational partner as you leave. C Sure, it’s a dog-eat-dog world
or partners. out there. But some smart
“Acquiring this skill will
help you develop rapport
• Smile first and always For more from Fine, or to steps can help make sure you
shake hands when you order the book, visit her Web don’t go home hungry. C
meet anyone. site at www.DebraFine.com.