Negotiating Well Gives Women Entrepreneurs an Edge

There’s power in knowing how to negotiate well. And for female entrepreneurs, there will be many times in your new business endeavor when you need to use solid negotiating skills.

But, for many women, negotiation is seen as conflict. It makes them uncomfortable, maybe even hesitant. (There’s always the chance of hearing the dreaded “no.”)

Nothing could be further from the truth. The best outcome in a negotiation is one that holds something positive for all parties. Sure, there’s always a possibility you’ll get a “no,” but if you let fear hold you back, the answer will always be no. Conversely, once you’ve mastered the basics of negotiation, you’ll actually find out it’s fun!

Lisa Gates, coach, mediator and co-founder of She Negotiates offers insight. “When I started coaching women, I noticed that many women, while incredibly talented at developing a strategic plan for what they wanted to achieve, stumbled when it came to asking for what they wanted.” Curiosity over what she was witnessing led to more research and the eventual conclusion that there’s no “flaw”—women’s best and most highly valued skills and strengths were exactly what is needed for successful negotiation.

“On any given day in our businesses, organizations and in the media, leadership is characterized by words like power, negotiation, achievement, results, success and ambition. But when we ask women what words they would use to characterize their work styles, they use words like collaboration, communication, problem-solving and brainstorming.”

“Women see power as the capacity to create something, as opposed to dominance or control.”

Negotiating well can be mastered by simply learning the strategies and tactics and then practicing them so they become a habit.

Here are 7 negotiating tips to help you get started:

  1. Define your goals. Before any negotiation, be clear on what you want to achieve. Don’t be afraid to think BIG.
  2. Do your homework. There is power in information. While it’s important to think big, you also want to be reasonable, striking that delicate balance. If you’re asking a vendor for a lower price, be aware of what others are charging. If you’re asking for a raise, know your value and the average salary for your job in your area.
  3. Plan your strategy. Think through the conversation. Mentally craft key points of the conversation. Anticipate objections or the other person’s perspective. Remove any ego and instead focus on getting the result you want.
  4. Use persuasive communication skills. Notice the other person’s body language and make sure your own appears confident. Eliminate verbal modifiers and crutch words that weaken what you’re saying (“If it’s alright with you,” “um”). Listen carefully to what the other person is offering.
  5. Respect and understand the other party. The best negotiation is truly a give and take where both parties come away feeling as if they have benefited from the exchange. This mutual respect also leaves the door open for future negotiations.
  6. Know where you are willing to concede. As you plan your strategy, identify points where you can give a little. Consider these beforehand.
  7. Be prepared to offer your best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA). If the original negotiation fails, what’s your plan B? It’s important to identify alternatives that might also help you achieve your goals.

Negotiation is an incredibly important part of starting and running a business. Whether working with vendors, recruiting potential colleagues or pitching deals to prospective investors, building your ability and comfort with negotiating has big payoffs. Think of it as another positive step toward fulfilling your entrepreneurial dream.



This article is the ninth in a series written to help women entrepreneurs like you take a closer look at what’s keeping you from moving forward, overcome doubts and understand the fundamentals and the mindset needed to help make you successful. They are not designed to help you build your financials or create your marketing plan, but rather to prod you to think bigger … and begin thinking with the mindset of an entrepreneur. They will appear on our blog:  and in our free monthly professional women’s newsletter which you can subscribe to:

If you missed our first eight articles, read them here:

  1. Women Entrepreneurs: What’s Keeping You From Starting the Business of Your Dreams
  2. Creating the Mindset for Success as a Female Entrepreneur
  3. 7 Questions to Ponder Before You Start a New Business
  4. Does Starting a Business Feel Too Risky to You?
  5. Why Women Need to Break Free of the Ideal of “Having It All”
  6. 3 Shared Money Fears of Many Daring Female Entrepreneurs
  7. How to Create the Brand That Will lead to New Business Success
  8. Networking Tips for Women Starting Businesses

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