© 2019

Entrepreneurial Negotiation

Understanding and Managing the Relationships that Determine Your Entrepreneurial Success

  • Presents entrepreneurship as a sequence of negotiations within a galaxy of partners, investors, staff, suppliers, and potential consumers

  • Contains interviews with eight entrepreneurs as well as a detailed analysis of what the interviewees did wrong and what they now realize they should have done to prevent, detect or respond more effectively to their errors

  • Offers 3 prescriptions to common mistakes (prevention, detection, response)


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxiii
  2. Samuel Dinnar, Lawrence Susskind
    Pages 1-11
  3. Samuel Dinnar, Lawrence Susskind
    Pages 13-40
  4. Samuel Dinnar, Lawrence Susskind
    Pages 41-60
  5. Samuel Dinnar, Lawrence Susskind
    Pages 61-125
  6. Samuel Dinnar, Lawrence Susskind
    Pages 179-186
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 187-225

About this book


The great majority of startups fail, and most entrepreneurs who have succeeded have had to bounce back from serious mistakes. Entrepreneurs fumble key interactions because they don’t know how to handle the negotiation challenges that almost always arise. They mistakenly believe that deals are about money when they are much more complicated than that.

This book presents entrepreneurship as a series of interactions between founders, partners, potential partners, investors and others at various stages of the entrepreneurial process - from seed to exit. There are plenty of authors offering ‘tips’ on how to succeed as an entrepreneur, but no one else scrutinizes the negotiation mistakes that successful entrepreneurs talk about with the authors.

As Dinnar and Susskind show, learning to handle emotions, manage uncertainty, cope with technical complexity and build long-term relationships are equally or even more important. This book spotlights eight big mistakes that entrepreneurs often make and shows how most can be prevented with some forethought. It includes interviews with high-profile entrepreneurs about their own mistakes. It also covers gender biases, cultural challenges, and when to employ agents to negotiate on your behalf.

Aspiring and experienced entrepreneurs should pay attention to the negotiation errors that even the most successful commonly make.


entrepreneurial negotiation cross-cultural seed incubators startups angel investors innovation

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law SchoolCambridge, MAUSA
  2. 2.Department of Urban Studies and PlanningMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridge, MAUSA

About the authors

Samuel Dinnar is an instructor at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, with a 25-year track record as a global entrepreneur, hi-tech executive, board member, and venture capital investor. He is a strategic negotiation advisor and a mediator specializing in business conflicts involving founders, investors, and board members in early-stage, high-growth and distressed companies.

Lawrence Susskind has been an innovator and Professor at MIT for more than forty-five years. He is one of the founders and directors of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, and a founder of the Consensus Building Institute. He has trained tens of thousands of students and executives globally, and has published twenty books.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Entrepreneurial Negotiation
  • Book Subtitle Understanding and Managing the Relationships that Determine Your Entrepreneurial Success
  • Authors Samuel Dinnar
    Lawrence Susskind
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2019
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages Business and Management Business and Management (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-319-92542-4
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-030-06456-3
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-319-92543-1
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XXIII, 225
  • Number of Illustrations 1 b/w illustrations, 24 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Popular Science in Business and Management
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“‘Entrepreneurial Negotiation’ provides you great tools and mindset guidance to start considering negotiations as an opportunity, rather than a threat. ... it allows you to criticize your current negotiation attitude and identify your gaps to become a great negotiator.” (Alexandre Azevedo, The Traction Stage,, October 16, 2019)

“This book should be read by everyone who is selling, buying or trying to establish relationships. All of these require negotiation. Each of these activities is more complex than most people think. This book offers practical guidelines, checklists and advice. The theme is that through conscious thought, you can improve your outcomes.” (Howard Stevenson, Sarofim-Rock Professor Emeritus, Harvard Business School; Founder and first President of the Baupost Group, USA)

“Dinnar and Susskind have used a hypothetical tale of two startup founders to create the visceral, emotional, legal and practical rollercoaster that is the typical journey of the entrepreneur. They take their reader through the data, resources and considerations that will help them navigate these same challenges for their own startups in a pragmatic and engaging read.” (Heidi Roizen, Silicon Valley long-time entrepreneur, executive and board member; Venture Capital Operating Partner, Draper Fisher Jurvetson)

“This book should be required reading for every entrepreneur – indeed, anyone launching a new enterprise. Dinnar and Susskind do more than identify the common conflicts that arise in the start-up world; they crystalize and illustrate the best advice from the field of negotiation.” (Robert Mnookin, Chair, Program on Negotiation, Harvard Law School; author of Bargaining with the Devil: When to Negotiate, When to Fight)

“The authors present our venture industry with a unique gift – a common language and proven framework to improve our entrepreneurial interactions, relationships, agreements and outcomes. I have seen great technologies, great ventures and great sums of money lost to some of the most basic negotiating mistakes. The authors provide a useful and practical framework to prevent such missed opportunities. The result will be happier entrepreneurs, rewarded investors, and a better world. Every entrepreneur and VC could benefit from this unique combination of theory and practice.” (Paul Maeder, Chair and Founding Partner, Highland Capital; former Chair, National Venture Capital Association)

“Both aspiring and experienced entrepreneurs have much to gain from this book! Dinnar and Susskind tap their extensive experience and deep knowledge of negotiation practice and research to offer a gold mine of negotiating advice and preparation tools. Moreover, I applaud their thoughtful consideration of factors, such as gender and culture at the negotiating table.” (Hannah Riley Bowles, Chair, Management, Leadership, and Decision Sciences Area; Faculty Director, Women and Public Policy Program, Harvard Kennedy School

“Negotiation is an essential competence for entrepreneurs seeking to build a successful company and to drive change in their industry. In this highly practical guide, packed with examples and techniques, Samuel Dinnar and Larry Susskind highlight the common mistakes entrepreneurs make, and draw valuable negotiation lessons for navigating conflict effectively at all stages of entrepreneurship. Recommended for aspiring and seasoned entrepreneurs alike.” (William Ury - Co-author of Getting to Yes; Co-founder of Harvard’s Program on Negotiation; Author of seven books)

“A must-read for any and every founder navigating their way along the path, from conception and short-term viability, to finding long-term success.  Entrepreneurial Negotiation helps you see the pitfalls and maximize the potential in your most important relationships - with partners, angel investors, VC funders, key employees and early clients.  Whether you're a start-up or taking your established business to the next level, this should be required reading for the whole leadership team.” (Sheila Heen – Cofounder of Triad; Lecturer at Harvard Law School; Co-author of Difficult Conversations and Thanks for the Feedback)

“As a Founder-CEO I have seen my venture grow from just a dream, to an accelerator with programs and employees around the globe. Some of our 1,500+ alumni have solved, disrupted, and created change worldwide. Others have had to shut down their ventures. As the book Entrepreneurial Negotiation so vividly describes, much of the success of a startup depends of the entrepreneur’s ability to understand and manage their critical relationships. My partners and I facilitate judging and mentoring hundreds of startups each year. We see founders pitching their ideas and making many of the eight dangerous mistakes that the book describes – from being too self-centered, to denying their emotions while trying to “win” at all costs. I see many founders operate their seed-stage startup based on gut instinct and intuition, without any real framework of negotiation. I believe they can, and should, do better. This book is “mission critical” for entrepreneurs, and for any person or corporation that wants to collaborate with startups. Entrepreneurial Negotiation is a treasure trove of insights and practical advice on how to develop your key relationships, manage your natural mistake-biases, and direct your startup interactions to achieve high impact, from seed to exit.” (John Harthorne - Founder and CEO of MassChallenge; Winner, 2007 MIT $100K Business Plan Competition; 2013 Young Global Leader, The World Economic Forum)