Cultivate Your Negotiation Skills For Entrepreneurial Success In this age of high-impact business, negotiations for everything from deals to contracts have become an unavoidable factor of daily life.

By Dr. Gouher Ahmed

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If negotiations are believed to be a way of life –and more so in business- then it's safe to call them the first and foremost of entrepreneurial functions. In fact, negotiations appear to be the very essence of entrepreneurship- the various twists and turns in an entrepreneurial journey call for great negotiation skills at all of those critical junctures.

In this age of high-impact business, negotiations for everything from deals to contracts have become an unavoidable factor of daily life, and the art of negotiation has grown into a science or a learned discipline. For entrepreneurs especially, negotiations are essential for the success and survival of their respective enterprises, as well as for the satisfaction, retention and growth of their customer bases. Entrepreneurship is essentially a science of negotiation- an entrepreneur stands or falls depending on how successfully he is able to negotiate his business deals. They are, after all, the medium by various risks can be converted into non-risks.

But that's not the only place where the application of negotiation skills come into play- in fact, they make an appearance at the very onset of the entrepreneurial journey, when entrepreneurs decide on the product or service that they want to actually launch. With a good number of factors to be considered (which include everything from an analysis of customer demand/need to the timing of the launch per se), entrepreneurs needs to make their way through a process, which, while tumultuous, is nonetheless absolutely essential as well. There are also decisions to be made on whether the startup in question should be launched as an online or offline enterprise- the latter will require further discussions on the pros and cons of various potential locations for the actual site of the business. Then there's the critical matter of capital or investment for the enterprise- these remain somewhat hard to come by even though there currently seems to be an abundance of such sources of funds, from banks to venture capitalists to angel investors and more, all of whom call for sound enterprise plans and secure returns on their investment. Of course, many startups today are commenced with the entrepreneurs' own funds, and further capital is often negotiated at economical rates.

When their businesses actually kick into gear, that's when entrepreneurs will have to deal with a whole new set of negotiations, ranging from land to labor. Economy will be the watchword in these situations, be it with regard to the production of goods and services, or to their eventual marketing and earning of profits. Deft negotiation skills are required here, and also with the question of labor- the latter are probably the toughest of the lot, which call for the determination of wages and work conditions as well. It is economically wrong and ethically unwelcome to think that profits are a function of a low wages and long hours of work, and as a result, entrepreneurial negotiations need to confer on labor its appropriate due. Production and marketing negotiations are also in the picture- marketing channels are to be negotiated with price, margins samples, advertising, etc., so as to give the customers a fair and satisfying deal on which the success of the enterprise and fall profits and growth depend.

There are thus a number of negotiations to be constantly undertaken by the entrepreneur throughout the journey of executing the launch of an enterprise, and if one is to succeed in these endeavors, then fairness needs to be the guiding principle of the strategy he or she goes forward with. After all, entrepreneurship is, ultimately, a series of winning negotiations aimed at giving customers value for their money.

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Dr. Gouher Ahmed

Professor of Strategic Leadership & International Business at Skyline University College, Sharjah, UAE

Professor Gouher Ahmed, PhD, PMP (USA), has been active for over 20 years in various academic, social & business settings worldwide and consulting in North America, South Asia and the Middle East. He has played a critical role in helping organizations formulate winning strategies, drive many change initiatives and improve business results. Besides being the winner of several awards and honors, Prof. Ahmed has published more than 90 research articles and presented in more than 50 international conferences worldwide on contemporary business issues. His teaching, research and publications are focused on international business, foreign trade, emerging markets and strategic leadership. He is currently Professor of Strategic Leadership & International Business at Skyline University College, Sharjah, UAE, and an International Management Consultant. 

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