What was the reason for changing your business name?
The Growing Beyond brand name came about several years before I started my current business. At the time, I had recently returned from living overseas. I had three small children – one just starting school, two still at kindergarten – and I planned to start an executive coaching business to give me flexibility. I never started that business, as I didn’t really know what my niche was going to be and I didn’t want to be just another business coach in a fairly saturated market.
Several years later, I found my niche and was ready to start a business. I kept “Growing Beyond” as the name as I was more focused on getting the business up and running than worrying about the right name.
What I’ve realised is that Growing Beyond is not a memorable name. Clients remembered me but often had to ask me to remind them what my business was called. Also, the name didn’t live up to my business values of simplicity and clarity. I wanted a business name that tells people who I am and what I do. I feel that Nicole Davidson Negotiation does that job!
Why was it important that you change the business name?
It became important to me that my brand represented the way I want to work with clients. Firstly, it had to be about making things clear and uncomplicated. Secondly, it had to reflect the fact that, when people deal with my business, they get my personal service. The person you see on the website is the person you will be working with.
Is the direction of the business changing?
My business has always been about helping people negotiate better business outcomes. This is not changing at all. What I have been looking at is how I can offer those services in innovative ways that really meet the needs of my clients.
My core offerings have always been training, negotiation consulting and mediation. This is continuing. What’s changing is the way in which some of these services are delivered.
While 2020 has been a really tough year, it has also enabled me to move into new ways of delivering services. My training had always been face-to-face, mainly for small groups. I’ve now developed the skills and have invested in the technology to deliver remote training that is as effective as face-to-face sessions. I’ve changed the way in which sessions are delivered – online sessions are broken down in shorter chunks over a number of weeks. I’m also operating in-person blended learning sessions – written materials and videos deliver content and in-person sessions focus on skill development.
My negotiation consulting has traditionally seen me being engaged to advise on a specific transaction. I worked with clients to prepare them for a deal or mediation and then assisted or ran the negotiations with the other side. I’ve now expanded this offering to include retainer services. This gives clients access to negotiation advice on smaller deals that don’t justify a full consulting assignment but that would benefit immensely from a second perspective before the deal is done.
My focus in the mediation space continues to be in early intervention mediation, before litigation commences. I want to help parties get their disputes resolved as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. My process is tailored to each unique dispute to ensure the best possible outcome.
I also continue to work in the more traditional court-connected litigation space. I have had great success running these mediations virtually. This has not only resulted in great outcomes for clients who settle before trial, but has also been much more convenient and cost-effective for the parties. In one mediation, parties were present from Melbourne, Sydney, Mauritius, Durban and London. The savings in travel costs and lost productivity were huge!
The biggest innovation in this space is my new offering in dispute advisory services. Parties in long-term contracts where periodic issues may arise can retain me as a neutral advisor for the life of the contract. As soon as an issue arises, I am brought in to facilitate resolution and ensure that the matter doesn’t escalate. Early intervention is key in building productive, long-term business relationships.
What are the future goals for Nicole Davidson Negotiation?
Anyone who has worked with me will know that I am committed to increasing awareness of non-litigious dispute resolution options and building negotiating capacity in the business community. I will continue to be involved in promoting the development of negotiation skills, including supporting negotiation and mediation competitions to grow the skills of the next generation.
I want to continue to build a niche in the market for early intervention solutions. What gives me the most pleasure in my work is being able to remove the stress of conflict away from my clients. Whether it's completing a mediation or whether it's working with a client as a negotiation advisor, I love that moment when you see the weight lift from their shoulders and the relief on their faces, knowing they’ve avoided lengthy and expensive litigation and that they can sleep easy now that the problem has been resolved. That's what I do this for. And that's what I'm going to continue doing.
And of course, I'm also looking forward to the opportunity to work with even more clients from a training perspective. One of the beautiful things about the consulting work that I do is, as I work with clients on a live transaction and help negotiate alongside them, they learn the skills in practice. And eventually, after I've helped on a few transactions, they’ll have learned how to use a lot of these skills on their own.
Equally, there are not always opportunities for me to work alongside people in this type of real-time learning. Plus, I love working with groups to deliver training in an actual classroom, basing it around the group’s experiences and tailoring my courses to give everyone the most practical opportunity to understand how negotiation theory applies to their world. There's nothing better than running a course and getting feedback from a student a few days later letting you know they put into practice what you taught them and that it really led to better outcomes.