4 Ways to Negotiate Your Way to a 'Yes'

Business owners who work for themselves must learn fairly quickly how to negotiate for optimal terms.

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By Rebekah Epstein

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Certain entrepreneurial skills can't be taught in school. And, in my opinion, one of these is knowing how to negotiate your way to a "yes." Sometimes it can be hard to get people to understand your vision. Without being able to comprehend what you'd ultimately like to accomplish, they automatically tell you "no."

Business owners who work for themselves must learn fairly quickly the power of persuasion -- how to negotiate for optimal terms. Whether you are trying to get seed money for a tech startup or settling on the best terms for a lease on a new yoga studio, for instance, it pays to master the craft. Here are few tips and tricks to keep in mind:

1. Add a human touch. Sometimes, when we are in business mode, we forget to humanize the process. This can be detrimental because no one wants to feel like they are unimportant or aren't being heard.

Related: 3 Things Entrepreneurs Get Wrong When Negotiating

Lais Pontes, the president and principal publicist at The Pontes Group, a Florida-based marketing agency, explains that, "Sometimes, we forget to add a human touch. Remember to listen before you speak. You will then be able to properly explain the value of a product that caters to a party's specific needs.

"A successful negotiator will create a situation where both parties walk away from the deal happy."

2. Be willing to walk away. Walking away from the table shows that you mean business. Successful business owners know when something isn't worth their time. If you feel like someone is low-balling you, you need to know when to call it quits in order to keep the integrity of your business intact.

It may be tough to walk away from a negotiation, but sometimes, that can lead to getting exactly what you want, say co-founders of the New York-based PR Agency Socialfly, Stephanie Abrams and Courtney Spritzer. If someone really wants to work with you, they will figure out a way to make it happen.

Related: 7 Ways to Win Every Argument

3. Know your non-negotiables. Business is a lot like dating. Before you enter a negotiation, you have to know your deal-breakers, or what is absolutely non-negotiable about your business model. I can tell you from experience that people will always offer suggestions to try to change what you are doing. Sometimes their advice is valuable; sometimes it's not.

Abrams and Spritzer explain that sometimes negotiations necessitate compromise. Try to figure out what is most important to the other person and what is most important to you. Determine if there is a way that both parties can mutually benefit, and then be willing to concede on details that matter the least.

4. Work with people who don't try to change you. Rahama Wright, founder of SheaYeleen, a socially-conscious skin care company, puts it best: "It's important to negotiate with someone who sees the value in what you are doing, and sees you as a partner -- not someone they can take advantage of."

Especially when you are first starting out as an underdog, you can't let people take advantage of you. You always have to remember your worth.

Related: Why Thinking Abstractly Helps You Negotiate

Rebekah Epstein

Founder and Publicist, Fifteen Media

Rebekah Epstein is the founder of fifteen media, an agency that works exclusively with PR firms to streamline media relations in a digital era. She specializes in representing technology, health care, business and lifestyle companies.

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