Negotiation—can’t live with it, can’t do business without it. You can be an extremely confident person in your personal life, but you may not exude that same fearlessness when it comes to negotiating for your small business. The truth is that negotiating is much easier said than done. And business negotiation skills aren’t second nature to most people. Though business negotiations may be a daunting task that can leave you feeling anxious, it’s something that you can’t avoid. And quite frankly, you’re more capable of mastering business negotiating skills than you may think.
From employing extra folks to help you scale your business to sorting out prices with a vendor or supplier, negotiating is an essential skillset that you must learn to thrive. Keep reading to learn some of the fundamental business negotiation skills you need to know and hone as a small business owner.
Always do your research beforehand
Whether you’re preparing for an interview, a presentation for work/school, or a meeting for your business, the first step is always to prepare first. Proper preparation can help you better direct the conversation, anticipate questions or concerns, and help you feel more self-assured.
Pro-tip: One key thing to remember when preparing for negotiations is always to research the market prices of whatever you plan on discussing. Whether it’s negotiating for a rental space or hiring additional help, crunch the numbers beforehand so you can talk money with confidence.
Ramp up your listening skills
You may be passionate about your talking points, but the best way to be a good speaker is by knowing when to listen. No one likes having a conversation with someone who talks over them or generally dismisses what they have to say. Listening makes the other party feel included in the negotiation process and the outcome. Listen as much (if not more) as you talk.
Keep your emotions intact
“It’s business, not personal” is a saying that you may have heard countless times before. While emotions are a big part of what makes you human, letting your emotions take control in business is never a great idea. Any business transaction and decision should be rooted in what’s best for business, not how it makes you feel on a personal level. This will be key to keep in mind when improving your business negotiating skills.
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Remain gracious and courteous no matter what
We’d hope the person sitting on the opposite side of a business negotiation is well equipped, respectful, and approachable. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. If you happen to end up negotiating with someone that may be making the process unnecessarily difficult, don’t react based on their words, gestures, or actions. Be the bigger person by keeping your composure and moving along kindly.
When applicable, get things in writing
Once you come to an agreement, it’s good habit to get your negotiations in writing. This can double confirm you all are on the same page. This can be via a contract signed by both parties or even a follow-up email thread detailing what you all discussed and agreed upon. Use your better judgment to determine which option to go within in any particular scenario.
Know when to throw in the towel
As a small business owner, you may feel tempted to go for every and any opportunity that comes your way. The truth of the matter is, you need to know that it is perfectly fine to walk away from an opportunity or negotiation that truthfully may not fall in line with your goals. Don’t let FOMO pressure you into taking on something that may drain time and resources from a future incredible opportunity that falls in line with your goals.