12 Negotiation Mistakes Every Entrepreneur Should Avoid

Here's a look at the 12 most common negotiation mistakes you don't want to make.

Negotiating is natural and a common part of business. While the word, “negotiation” can bring a sweat under the collar to some, it is still quite simply a process used to reach an agreement or deal. Even though the concept is simple, the broad margin is still there for making all sorts of mistakes.

The reality is most small business owners have not had proper negotiation training including a “systematic process to negotiating deals with suppliers, vendors, and customers that helps to maintain an ongoing relationship long after ‘the deal is done.'” (Source: Shapiro Negotiations Institute). This causes many to feel uneasy about looming negotiation deals in the future.

So, whether you are a hardcore negotiator that needs a quick refresher, or your new to negotiating altogether, here’s a look at the 12 most common negotiation mistakes you don’t want to make.


  1. Believing You Have Total Control

    Even if you’re fully confident in your offer in the negotiation, you still can’t afford to forget that you do not have control over the other party. The best you can do is get a feel of where the other party’s motives lie, what their hot buttons are, what their body language is like, etc.

  2. Rushing the Negotiation

    Rushing a negotiation is a fantastic way to wind up with an unfair deal or trouble in the future. Give yourself time to rationalize what you’re offering or what you’re trying to get.

  3. Negotiating with the Wrong Party

    If you’re not negotiating with the decision maker, your chances of a successful deal plummet. Instead, teach the messenger, or party you’re speaking to, how to deliver your proposal. If you can, negotiate with on being present with your idea is pitched to the decision maker.

  4. Leaving Emotions in the Negotiation

    You should always remember when negotiating that the deal is certainly not about you. Always stick to the facts rather than emotions, and avoid personalizing the matter.

  5. Caring Too Much

    Caring is important in negotiating, but you must have a line drawn for when it’s time to walk away. There are always other deals out there; this one is not important enough to risk too much money or time over.

  6. Going for More After the Negotiation

    Has Been Made Once the negotiation has been made, it’s time to leave. You should never stick around and see what else you can “squeeze out” of the other party. This can lead to aggravation and the other party ultimately feeling as though they’re being taken advantage of.

  7. Not Having Several Options in Mind

    Let’s face it. There’s a strong chance that the other party is going to shoot down your offer. This is why it’s wise to have anywhere from 2-5 other options on hand so that they have a chance to reject some of them.

  8. Going in With a Bad Attitude

    Negotiating is scary business if you’re new to it. However, it’s worth it to realize that virtually everything is negotiable. Once you leave your worries behind and realize that there is nothing to lose in negotiating, a door of opportunity opens up.

  9. Not Stating Exactly What is Wanted

    It’s your job to be up-front about what you’re expecting from the other party in the deal. Don’t let your fear of rejection run what you’re wanting out of the deal. Be honest and upfront.

  10. Failing to Document the Negotiation

    If you manage to succeed at negotiating a tough deal but don’t have the paperwork to prove it, it’s easy for the other party to change their mind at any time. Always document the final decision.

  11. Failing to Read the Final Contract

    If the other party is documenting the negotiation, read the contract in its entirety before signing on the dotted line. You might find loopholes, things that you will later regret, etc.

  12. Revealing a Deadline

    Lastly, never reveal a stringent deadline to the other party. All this does is give them the opportunity to mold a much more attractive business deal for themselves.


This article has been edited and condensed.

Robert Cordray is a former business consultant and entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience and a wide variety of knowledge in multiple areas of the industry such as corporate leadership, employee engagement, workplace culture and entrepreneurship. Cordray earned a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) from the University of Chicago. Connect with @robertcordray on Twitter.


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