Making The Right Decisions Isn’t Always Easy…or Right.

I had a rough day today. I made a decision to lease a space for our new business, The Catapult Project. I had looked at space all over downtown Carmel. I put a LOI (Letter of Intent) on a space I thought was perfect. I bid fifty cents higher per square foot than the other two ‘bidders’, but was told that the owners of the building decided to go with someone else.

I had a backup plan and, although it was “ok”, it wasn’t my first preference by far. Nonetheless, it was on Main Street and seemed to get some foot traffic. I met with the landlords and, over the course of a week, talked through all the items we needed to and had a handshake agreement on terms. Finally, a new place to call home!

That’s what I thought, anyway. Yesterday I get a phone call from a nice lady that said she heard I was looking to rent a space and she wanted me to come see it. I said, “No.” She persisted, I said, “No.” More persisitence and then I thought, “What do I have to lose? It’s a one minute walk out my door.” I was there in five minutes.

The building was in a nice location and would get, in my opinion, the same amount of foot traffic and drive by traffic as the other location, but it had two and a half times the other space in square feet, would require no renovation and had two “apartments” I could lease out or let my two kids live in. It had a two car garage, which I really could use since I have downsized from a house to an apartment in the last week…it really was a better location for our new business.

The dilemma then is, does a verbal agreement and handshake hold up in the moral court of law? Did I do something unethical by not signing with the original landlord? Do I feel bad?… YES, this is the second time  that I had talked through a lease with the same person but then found a much better deal/location. I signed nothing. They have no legal ground to stand on. But morally, do they?

I have thought about it and I think they do. I would not want to be treated that way, nor do I treat my clients that way. But on the other hand, Fat Atom has deals with clients all the time that throw around numbers, proposals and statements of work, investing sometimes eight to ten hours in meeting time….and the deal doesn’t go through for one reason or another. And sometimes even after deals have been signed and paid for, people change their minds… None of this sat well with me of course, but it wasn’t personal, it was business.

So as I wrap up this diatribe of mixed emotions, I am trying to find a lesson in all this. Is it better to sometimes break a verbal agreement for the greater good of your business? My gut tells me yes, but I still don’t feel any better.
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