People decide to start businesses for a variety of reasons, but one of the biggest reasons is because they have a particular skill that lends itself to their business. An example of this is someone who is mechanically inclined and decides to open an automobile repair shop, or somebody who is a computer whiz and decides to build and fix computers for a living. It’s a great idea to start a business based on your existing skills, but sometimes entrepreneurs won’t take into account the additional skills that are necessary to run a business. Areas like bookkeeping and accounting, tech support and cleaning can all be outsourced to other companies or independent contractors, but there are also skills that are necessary to effectively run a business that all entrepreneurs should always be working on improving.
One of the biggest skills entrepreneurs need is the ability to negotiate effectively. Every entrepreneur should focus on improving their negotiation skills. Some business owners really don’t like to negotiate, they’re worried about the outcome of negotiations, or they simply lack the ability to negotiate.
Even if you’re not a natural born negotiator, you can take steps to drastically improve your skills and to go toe-to-toe against the very best negotiators around. Being a great negotiator takes a lot of creativity, but there is also a science behind it too. Here are some examples of basic principles of negotiation that can guide business owners in all aspects of running their companies.
If you’re going into a meeting and you know that negotiations will be taking place, make sure you have done your research and you’re up to date on everything. Know what you want. If you don’t know what you want to get out of the negotiation, how will you know what to ask for? And even more importantly, know how you ask for it.
Sometimes it can be advantageous to hold out and to see what gets offered to you, but you should still have an idea of what is an acceptable outcome and what is not. This helps to avoid letting emotions play too much of a part in the negotiation process.
Leave on good terms.
Not all negotiations are going to go your way. Having said that, there is grace in defeat and even if you aren’t able to reach a deal, it’s still important to stay respectful. Leave a good impression and you’ll greatly increase your chances of coming to a deal later down the road. Sometimes, people will bluff in order to see how you’ll react, so keep your cool at all times and if you aren’t able to reach an acceptable negotiation, make sure that you’re at least leaving the door open for further discussions.
Expect the unexpected.
Not every negotiation is going to take place when you’re expecting a negotiation and you have had time to prepare; you never know when a customer or a supplier is going to come at you with something that you’re going to have to deal with on the spot. If you own a restaurant and your supplier only has six dozen boxes of eggs left but you needed eight, and he’s still trying to deliver some of them to the cafe down the street instead, being able to think on your feet and negotiating effectively can be the difference between whether your patrons will get their omelets or not. Obviously, that’s just an example – this can be applied to every other type of business as well. You’ve got to be ready to negotiate at any time, any place.
Mary Ann Keeling is a freelance writer and a blogger who also runs a successful small business from home. She thinks that the ability to negotiate is the most essential tool in business. You can follow her on Twitter @MaryAnnKeeling