First, sorry for not being in touch. I know. It’s been awhile.

We’ve been quite busy working on some up-coming new material. It’s going to make science so much easier to manage. (I’ll come back to this topic at another post.)

For now, I’m here to talk about getting you started off on the right foot to help you succeed. It’s important to establish the resources that you need for your science. Those resources have a monetary amount. We helped a client to define that amount, which lead to a substantial start up value.

So, for confidentiality purposes, I can’t name names nor the exact details about the negotiations. However, I can actually talk about the process to which and how that conversation took place.

My client was in the middle of negotiations when we met. It was for a little over a million dollar start up, which already was a great deal.

However, when we actually started to work together she quickly found that she was going to need a lot more to reach her research goals.

So how did we do it?

Have you ever had to negotiate a large sum of money to start a venture? How does one come up with a dollar amount?

What do you say to ensure that you’re not getting the short end of the stick? How do you not upset the other party, which could lead to the lost of the entire deal?

These are all questions that goes through one’s head, including young brilliant investigators like you.

The basics of the negotiation process involves having a conversation in order to clearly define mutually shared goals.

In the case of our client, we had a dialog about what it would take to develop her research practice. Through this process, the institute was able to learn that her intended goals were in-line with their’s.

She described the conversation to be nerve wracking and scary.  However, she found it to be remarkably exciting and a relatively creative process.

I advised to develop a creative mindset about the negotiation. It is not a win-lose discussion, but a win-win dialogue.

At which point the negotiations will determined her needs. They are outlined, then clearly written out. Our conversation focused on 3 main criteria:

  1. First, be clear about your resource needs, not your financial needs.
    Avoiding discussions about money is never the easiest thing to do. It tends to create some emotionally charged discussions.
    However, having a conversation about how you arrived at a number is more useful.
    For example. State simply, “these are my goals… These goals will require these items. ….” Pause, “Does your department have these items and/or will I be able to have access?” Wait for an answer. If they answer yes. Then no need to discuss those items and you can cross those off your list.
    With the remaining items, if they don’t have them, ask, “is there is a way I can get access to them through another department?” If they offer to purchase, then discuss the cost.
    If they don’t offer, then assume those will come out of your start up costs.
    Write it down.
  2. Second, personal value is more than just your science.
    Be sure to let them know what value you’re bringing to the department in network, expertise, or even your own funding (if you have it).
    It’s up to you to illustrate and to discuss that value by offering up solutions to current pain points that they’re experiencing.
    I’ve gone into this in previous postings about securing an academic position without applying.
  3. That leads into our third point, align with the institute’s mission and goals.
    The institute will have many focuses and goals, but that is a simple discussion with the chair or dean in order to understand where the future of the department lies.
    Have frank discussions about what are some of the challenges they’re facing. There could be a number of things, like; creating a patient sequence database, or high throughput chemical screening platform, or even recruiting new funding models for the department.
    The issues or goals can be numerous. However, it’s up to you to think critically on how you can use your current skills, knowledge, and resources to add value toward their goal.
    Create a clear outline of how your work can add to that vision or goal. These are better uses of your skill set and a more comfortable conversation for both parties.

So, essentially we arrived at a $3 million dollar startup award because we met those 3 criteria:

  1. We were able to articulate what resources that we needed for success. (Give a clear dollar amounts on those resources)
  2. We were able to illustrate how we will increase the value of the department (Define the ROI-Return on their investment).
  3. We were able to increase the collaborative rapport between the new institute and with our own extended successful network connections. (Create cross institutional networking and develop potential PO1 leads. Project funds.)

Many negotiations can either be adversarial or be cooperative. However, within a community that has a natural shared value of new scientific discoveries, those conversations can be more enjoyable rather than dreadful.

Have you negotiated your start up award already? How did that conversation go? Share your story with the rest of us.

Leave a comment below.

We can all benefit from this and other’s experiences. Like my dad (& JFK) used to say, “Rising tides lifts all ships.”

Let me help you to be successful. Do you need some coaching on how to actually negotiate your start up? Contact me.