Monday, May 31, 2010

Business lessons from Pawn Stars

From time to time I like to watch Pawn Stars on the History Channel. After watching a few episodes, a couple of clear business lessons emerge:

When in doubt, call in the expert

Every episode has the staff relying on the expertise of outsiders. Given the variety of objects they handle its impossible for any one person to know everything they need to know to make good decisions on a consistent basis. Takeaway from this that as your responsibilities increase in breadth and depth, get good people and rely on their expertise.

Let the other guy reveal his expectations first

Every job hunter has been told not to initiate the salary discussion. You don't want to leave money on the table, and you just might pay more or receive less if you break first. The Pawn Stars always ask, "So, what are you looking to get from this?"

Never take the first offer

You have the money. Someone wants the money. Chances are pretty good they want to get your money way than you want what they're selling. Use that. Find out just how badly they want or need your money by bargaining hard.

A good deal is a profitable deal - for you

For all the "training" we receive as business professionals about "yes-yes" deals, it's great when that can happen, but it doesn't NEED to happen. You're in business to make a profit, and there's nothing shameful about it. If you can't make a profit on the deal, deliver the news in a straightforward way and if the other party can't help you get to "YES", walk away.

Don't forget your manners

When these guys can't make a good deal, they shake the other party's hand, thank them, and part on friendly terms. Just because this deal didn't work, you never know if they'll come back tomorrow with a better deal. Or maybe they just have second thoughts and come back to you because you treated them with respect. No need to be a dick.