Why Walking Away is the Founder’s Most Critical Leverage

The experience of approaching co-mans for your CPG business is when most founders realize the meaning of ‘zero leverage’ business conversations. Ouch. Co-mans are notorious for ‘using’ startups to plug small holes in their production capacity without caring about the end product quality. You are so small; you can’t sue them. You often don’t ask the right questions. You sign crappy contracts.


Here’s the thing, though. You can always walk away. If you feel ‘cringe,’ that’s a pretty good sign you’ll be unhappy with this or that stakeholder. And the primary form of leverage a tiny business brings is the power to simply walk away from deals and partnerships. I’ve done it plenty of times myself. 

In fact, if you are NOT walking away from things, I bet that you are making some bad business decisions. It’s sort of like a romantic relationship without ANY conflict. Hmm…I think that’s probably not a relationship at all, eh? 

So, if walking away is your primary leverage, then you need to absolutely, definitely, always give yourself enough lead time to walk away from Door #1 and get to Door #2 to use a Monty Hall reference.

This means starting your stakeholder research, interviewing, rapport-building well in advance, so you are NOT making a time-pressured decision. 

Dr. James Richardson

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