In case you haven’t heard the phrase “done deal,” it’s used to mean that an agreement with someone, written or otherwise, is all but signed or shook on. (For now, let’s assume that “signed” also means agreed upon formally when there is no written agreement, as verbal agreements can be binding.) It implies that the agreement will in fact occur, and it’s now just a formality, there’s nothing to worry about whatsoever.
When people believe it to be the case, they’ll start acting like the contract is signed. They’ll start purchasing equipment, hiring employees, putting out press releases, making travel plans, buying houses, etc.
There’s only one problem – there is no such thing as a done deal. There are but two kinds of deals in this world:
Far too many times have I seen deals that were “99.99%” locked up, with contracts agreed to and everyone on board still go haywire at the last minute because a company is bought out, someone resigns, someone else wants more money, an investor’s accountant changes the investor’s mind, the other bidder ponied up more money, some technology stopped working right, etc. etc. etc.
That’s why signing the contract isn’t the last little bit of formality, it’s the only thing that matters, because without it, nothing else counts. Don’t count on any deal until it’s signed. Even then lots of signed deals go south, so until you get the money, you just never know. The one thing I do know is that when someone tells me it’s a “done deal,” all it means is that they haven’t been burned – yet.