If you own and operate your small business for any length of time, you will more than likely end up in a dispute with another business, a vendor or a customer. In many cases, the dispute can be resolved with minimum fuss.
In other cases, however, the dispute seems to only grow and fester. You or the other party involved may begin talking about litigation as a way to resolve the issue. Fortunately, there is another option that could work out better for all of the parties involved: mediation.
The highlights of mediation
When you participate in mediation, you agree to allow a neutral third party to help guide you through negotiations. Each party receives the opportunity to present his or her side of the story. Thereafter, both parties and the mediator propose options for resolution. The mediator keeps both sides on track and can provide potential solutions.
When you and the other party reach an agreement, a settlement memorializes your agreement. Because each side listened to the other and had input into the agreement, satisfaction is often higher than through litigation. If any similar issues come up between the parties in the future, a foundation of cooperation and compromise already exists.
The costs of mediation
One of the more attractive reasons to participate in mediation is the cost. Often, it is less than would be required to litigate the matter. However, the costs do not only include money. The amount of time you would spend mediating your dispute is often less than it would be to take the dispute all the way to trial. Even if you reached a settlement before entering the courtroom, the time and money expended could already be more than you could reasonably afford.
The other benefits of mediation
Mediation may also keep the dispute out of the public eye. This benefits you as a small business owner since your reputation within the marketplace should not feel the impact of the dispute. Even if you don't come to an agreement during the mediation sessions, you and the other party may be able to continue working toward a resolution outside the Texas court system.
You may discover what the other party believes the dispute is really about, which could help you resolve it. Sometimes, people just want to tell their side of the story and know that they are valued. In other cases, a more concrete and written agreement may be the only way to move forward. In either case, you were able to reach some agreement without the need for litigation. However, if litigation does become necessary, you at least have a starting point and may be able to focus the litigation on the real issues.