The Knife Fight

Edition #9

September 6th, 2019

Here at, we're in the business of helping small to mid-sized business owners run, grow, and transition ownership of their business more effectively. With that goal in mind, enjoy this issue of The Knife Fight, a weekly newsletter for operators in the trenches.


3-D negotiation: playing the whole game (Harvard Business Review)
+ An oldie but a goodie, this is an in-depth look at second-order thinking applied to negotiations. There are three key takeaways from this article:

1. Know and understand what tactics to use at the negotiation table. This comes down to interpersonal conduct, communications skills, and reading the motivations behind the party across the table. This is plain and simple 1-D negotiation.

2. Know what terms and conditions will increase your chances of a yes. If you can pull side terms into the deal that will unlock efficiencies and create value for both parties, this may tip the scales in your favor. This moves us to 2-D negotiations.

3. Know what third parties will increase your leverage in the deal. This is the biggest lesson for "3-D" negotiators. If you have a solid understanding of how your industry's ecosystem works, you can bring third parties into the deal and align theirs' incentives with yours which can potentially increase the value created for everyone.

Investors and Operators: lessons from both worlds (
+ This is CEO Brent Beshore's latest essay on being both an investor and an operator. Check it out to see what investors can learn from operators and what operators can learn from investors.


How Dollar General found a low margin niche (Modern Retail)
+ "The store hit $6.98 billion in revenue in the second-quarter of its fiscal year 2019, and announced that same-store sales had risen by 4%. The company currently has around 16,000 stores and plans to open up 5,000 more by the end of the year."

LaCroix won the bubble battle, but its losing the sparkling water war (Bloomberg)
+ If you have ever had a LaCroix, you probably understand what the hype around the brand is all about. But it turns out that carbonated water is a pretty competitive business.


The epic decades-long battle between Ford and a small-time inventor (The Hustle)
+ We all take windshield wipers for granted today, but this is the story of their inventor who wouldn't yield to big corporate greed.

Survive and thrive: the entrepreneur who overcame a $600M deal disaster and fended off WeWork (Forbes)
+ The story behind the survival of one of WeWork's competitors, JustCo, and how the founder narrowly avoided "entrepreneurial oblivion."

Public transit projects cheaper than Uber's $5.2B 2Q loss, ranked (Jalopnik)
+ "Combined, these seven major public transportation projects are projected to cost $16.89 billion, or about four percent more than Uber’s cumulative losses since 2016."


Retailers are rethinking their Google search strategy (Modern Retail)
+ "Data from Jumpshot says that more than 50% of Google searches in June didn’t result in a click. The results show that organic search clicks are going down even as paid Google search clicks are going up, as are searches that result in no clicks whatsoever."

Facebook ad prices surge due to barrage by Democratic hopefuls (Wall Street Journal $)
+ When the field of candidates involves more than 10 potential nominees, is it any wonder that Facebook's ad pricing has surged? It is also interesting to note the connection between increased Facebook advertising and politics.


America's worker deserts (Axios)
+ "Across the country, there are more than 1 million more jobs available than there are people to fill them."


What dropping 17,000 wallets around the world can tell us about honesty (
+ '"People were more likely to return a wallet when it contained a higher amount of money," Cohn says. "At first we almost couldn't believe it and told him to triple the amount of money in the wallet. But yet again we found the same puzzling finding."'

Why the government turns to Waffle House when tracking emergencies (
+ The 'House' is always open, unless severe weather is on the horizon. It's become a reliable index for FEMA and other agencies to monitor how bad weather conditions are in various parts of the country.

We'd love your help.

If you stumble across something great, send it to

If you know an owner, operator, or someone who works with SMB's, please give us the highest compliment and send them our way. You can find previous Knife Fight issues here.