Are Negotiation Skills Important to Succeed in Small Business?

While getting a small business up and running can be a thrilling adventure, running it can be a beast of a task. According to Fundera, approximately 20% of small businesses fail in the first year. The reasons for this are varied, but business experts have found that one of the most fatal is a lack of negotiation skills in the workforce.

Whether you’re trying to get better prices from suppliers, secure new clients, or lock down a sale, negotiating effectively can make a big difference in your success. The question is, what makes a good negotiator? Experts at say the following skills can help small business owners and their teams become capable negotiators.

Be well prepared

Being well prepared for negotiations can give you a big advantage. For one, it will help you understand what you want to achieve and what you’re willing to give up. If you know what you’re targeting and what your bottom line is, you’ll be in a much better position to get it.

The more prepared you are, the less likely you are to make mistakes or get flustered when Plan A crashes. Preparation also gives you time to think about the other side’s goals and interests. By understanding these things, you can reach an agreement that works for both of you.

When you’re gearing up for a meeting, take time to understand what your goals are. Also, try to dig into whom you’re dealing with and their interests. It’s also helpful to have an idea of what you’re willing to give up to get what you want.

Then, map out a strategy that can help you achieve your goals. Having a strategy will help you stay focused and on track during the negotiation meeting.

Communicate effectively

Negotiators need to be able to express their needs and objectives in a clear and succinct way. That is why it is important to communicate effectively. Without good communication skills, negotiators are more likely to become bogged down in disagreements, and the process is more likely to break down completely.

This can lead to missed opportunities and wasted time and resources. By communicating effectively, negotiators can find common ground, build trust, and reach agreements that are beneficial for all involved.

To communicate more effectively, use clear and concise language. Also, avoid jumping to conclusions. When something is not clear, ask questions to clarify things.

Try not to rush yourself or the other person. Allow for pauses and breaks in the conversation as it gives people time to process what they have just heard. Finally, be willing to hear the other person’s point of view, even if you don’t agree with it.

Build rapport

Rapport is having a close and harmonious relationship with people where you understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well. Establishing rapport can help build trust and goodwill, which are essential if you want to secure a positive outcome, say the negotiation experts.

There are a few key things you can do to build rapport when you are trying to reach an agreement. Listen more than you speak. When you speak, be clear and concise to avoid misinterpretations or confusion. Avoid coming across as pushy or aggressive. Instead, focus on building a relationship of trust and mutual understanding.

Try to focus on the things you have in common and look for ways to cooperate. Also, treat people with respect and courtesy. You want to make sure they don’t feel as if you are attacking them personally. So, stick to the issue at hand.


Problem-solving skills involve the ability to identify problems, assess potential solutions, and choose the best course of action. This skill can help negotiators craft creative solutions to difficult challenges. For example, finding ways to navigate an impasse smoothly or resolve complex disputes.

Problem-solving skills also involve the ability to think on your feet and to adapt to changing circumstances. This is important for negotiators because the process can be unpredictable. Negotiators may need to change their approach mid-discussion to respond to new developments.

If you want to improve your problem-solving skills, practice brainstorming. This involves coming up with as many potential solutions to a problem as you can think of without justifying, judging, or dismissing them immediately. This can help you generate new and creative ideas.

Also, get into the habit of thinking creatively. This means looking at problems from different angles and coming up with out-of-the-box solutions. Finally, don’t be afraid to take risks. Sometimes the best way to find an innovative solution to a problem is to try something new.

Practice active listening

Active listening is a key skill for any negotiator. By paying close attention to what the other person is saying, and trying to understand their point of view, you can build trust, resolve conflict, and reach an agreement.

Active listening involves more than just hearing the words that someone is saying. It’s about trying to understand the meaning behind the words, and the feelings that the person is trying to express.

If you want to improve your active listening skills, give the person speaking your full attention. Try to understand their point of view. Be patient and give them time to explain their thoughts and feelings. Be respectful, even if you don’t agree with the other person. Finally, repeat back what you’ve heard, to make sure you have correctly understood what was said.

Be patient

Negotiations can often be frustrating experiences, especially when both sides have dug themselves deep into a hole and are unwilling to budge. However, if you’re hoping to reach an agreement, it’s important to be patient. Rushing into a decision can often lead to poorer outcomes.

Patience allows you to take the time to assess a situation and to understand the other person’s interests and objectives. Then you can develop a strategy that can lead to a solution that both sides are happy with.

There are a few things you can do to try and be more patient during negotiations. One is to understand what gets you negatively fired up so you can start to work on managing them. If you feel yourself getting tense or frustrated, take a step back. Try to calm yourself down with a few deep breaths. Also, try not to get sidetracked during the discussion. It could help keep you from getting flustered.

In closing

Knowing how to negotiate is crucial to your small business. Fortunately, this skill can be learned and mastered with practice. By honing these six negotiation skills, small business owners can level the playing field and give themselves a much better chance of success.

Back to top button