Negotiating as an Entrepreneur

As an entrepreneur, you may be asking yourself the question, “Why should I develop my negotiation skill set?” This is a fair question, especially with the constant focus on scale and growth the entrepreneurial mindset demands. Although, as Samuel Dinnar explains in this episode of Negotiations Ninja, the ability to negotiate is an essential tool in an entrepreneur’s toolbox.

In fact, negotiation is present in all aspects of entrepreneurship. To put it simply, entrepreneurs have to negotiate for all the resources they control. For example, if they are looking for funding for a new project or idea, entrepreneurs need people to agree with them before they can promise anything. They need customers to believe in a product that doesn’t exist from a company who may not be around in six months. In essence, negotiation is a critical skill no matter where you are on the entrepreneurship timeline.

A key point Dinnar makes is overconfidence is detrimental in the process of negotiation. As an entrepreneur, if you enter a discussion with a potential client or donor with a sense of over-optimism, you will most likely fall short in the long run. You will be met with surprise when the other party is not engaging in the way you thought they would. You will be shocked when you discover that they are operating under different norms than you do.

Therefore, it is essential you begin by negotiating your norms of negotiations and what kind of expectations you want to set.

There are proven practice tips and methods for negotiation. Overall, preparations is key; therefore, having a checklist and a strategy is of utmost importance when going into a negotiation.

It is also incredibly important to have an alternative set in place – know what your alternative is and don’t get too complacent thinking things are going to go well.

From my perspective, we are all human. Negotiators are human, entrepreneurs are human. We all fall prey to our biases. I can definitely relate to this mistake, being too confident your original plan will work. I for one have been guilty of being overly optimistic. The key thing is developing our self-awareness, our awareness of others, and the awareness of the overall dynamics.

I really appreciated Dinnar’s point about getting into the habit of reflection after coming out of a negotiation. As an entrepreneur, it’s important to focus on one item. This could be one thing that worked well or one thing you would do differently. This will help you identify the lessons you have learned as a result of that negotiation experience.

A great part of our success relies on asking ourselves, ‘What advice would I give myself going into a future situation like this?’ File it away and move on.

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