7 Female Founders on Closing the Deal

Jell Elkins
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Sandy Lerner of Cisco Systems

Hire a lawyer.

In any negotiation, make sure you have the big guns on backup.

"I don't believe all VCs are adversarial, but the first thing I tell everyone is, 'Get your own lawyer.' Don't buy lines like, 'You guys are busy, we'll just have someone draw up some papers and it will be very pro forma.' Yeah, right."

Lerner learned this lesson the hard way. When she worked with her investor's father, she did not realize the agreement she signed left out her employment contract. Shortly after Cisco Systems went public in 1990, she was pushed out of the company she founded.