What you see is not always what you get

A second look is more important than the first glance

I hate to be the one to throw cold water on that much coveted, emotional reaction of love at first sight. While it may make the heart flutter, the reality is that the first encounter can lead to a long-suffering relationship without thoroughly verifying your initial impressions.

Unfortunately, transactions are not quite as easy and dramatic as portrayed on the popular TV show “Shark Tank,” where a group of investors listens to a succinct pitch from a wannabe entrepreneur proclaiming the virtues of his or her concept or product.

It would be nice, but the real world isn’t like this TV show in which a series of questions are followed by a quick, take-it-or-leave-it offer, culminating in gratuitous hugs if the deal is accepted. If the offer is rejected, the contestant is usually sent packing, with a few pejorative words of admonishment strongly suggesting the presenter may be a cockroach and might want to find another line of work.

Entertaining? Perhaps, depending on one’s perspective. Unless there is a doomsday clock about to strike 12, however, a 10-minute TV segment of rags-to-possible-riches doesn’t remotely resemble the methodical time-consuming process of the steps in actually orchestrating the deal.

In the take-no-prisoners world of commerce, the rule for business success is caveat emptor — buyer beware. This doesn’t make the prospective acquirer a cynic who knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing, as the writer Oscar Wilde warned. Instead, it’s just good business to have a cooling-off period before dropping to one knee to propose a lasting business relationship.

One method that I employ is to “sleep on it.” The next day, I make a list on a legal pad, first noting what I really liked and why. I then assign a numeric value of one through five. Next, under each positive, I re-read my comments, but this time I do so with a jaundiced eye focusing on what could go wrong or might have only been my fanciful impression. For this second step, I assign a numeric negative score for each point using the same range as the positives. I then total the pluses and subtract the minuses. If the net number is positive, the stronger the better, I go to the next level by employing old-fashioned, gumshoe detective work verifying what I thought I saw at first glance.

This is not a foolproof process as there’s no substitute for the time and attention spent on deep-dive diligence. It is, however, a shortcut to reaching the next plateau for a go, no-go decision. This exercise, using a basic pad and pen and numbers you can add up on two hands, might not be very sophisticated. In the end, it saves time and effort if the initial infatuation was merely caused by a few beats of the heart and the hope of a quick and easy win.

When choosing what to order after a quick glance at a restaurant menu, the downside might be indigestion. Being dead wrong about a business decision, however, can lead to severe heartburn or much worse.

Visit Michael Feuer’s website www.TipsFromTheTop.info to learn more about his columns, watch videos and purchase his books, “The Benevolent Dictator” and “Tips From The Top.”