The Most Important Skill Every Entrepreneur Needs to Master

In: entrepreneur| running a business

22 Sep 2009

There are various talents that can lead someone down the path of self-employment. Perhaps their business is based on a technical skill, such as being a sculptor or running a plumbing business. Others may have less tangible skills, such as being a gifted speaker or event planner. Regardless of what your business is, sooner or later you will need to develop another critical talent:

The ability to negotiate.

Many of us feel uncomfortable negotiating. The mere thought of the confrontation inherent in all negotiations is enough to make people avoid it altogether. But from dealing with your clients, to lowering your advertising rates, to making sure you aren’t overpaying for your office space, the benefits that effective negotiating can bring to your business are worth the initial discomfort.

Here are a few tips to make sure you are always getting the best deal.

1. Know What You Want in Advance
Have an idea of how you would like a negotiation to proceed ahead of time. Going in with a rough plan of what you need to accomplish before you talk to someone can help make sure you get it.

2. Be Prepared
Related to the first tip, it is important to learn as much as you can and gather as much information as possible beforehand. Understanding the situation from various viewpoints will allow you to address the other party’s concerns appropriately and reach an eventual agreement.

3. Don’t Think in Terms of “Winning” and “Losing”
Both parties are entering this negotiation with set goals in mind. Try to find ways to accommodate each other as much as possible. Being too emotional and concentrating just on “winning” can lead to bad behavior like yelling or being unreasonable. This will leave the other person frustrated and bitter and can create problems down the road.

4. Don’t Act Desperate
This is where a bit of acting can come into play. Whatever the real situation is, always give the impression you are willing to walk away. When somebody knows you NEED to do a deal, they won’t be willing to give up as much.

5. Assume Everything is Open for Negotiation
An entrepreneur should believe that everything is open for discussion. When someone quotes a price, that should be considered an opening bid. Even when you can’t lower a hard cost, there are often other benefits you can get thrown in if you ask.

Go Haggle Your Heart Out (But Be Nice)
A successful negotiation will leave everyone feeling that they benefited. Since you will often negotiate with the same people repeatedly (such as your clients), it is important to not breed resentment.

This post is just the tip of the iceberg and there are many great books written on the subject. But hopefully these tips are enough to get you started and make the process a little easier. Good luck!

Share Button
Mark Webster

About Mark Webster

One of the Co-Founders of SideTour, former TechStar (NYC Summer 2011), ex-NBA'er, and past TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon Winner.