5 Business Negotiation Tips for Independent Professionals

By MBO Partners | May 20, 2022


Key Points

One of the most important skills you can learn as an independent professional is how to negotiate business agreements.

Negotiations can improve customer relationships, set up your project for success, and support business growth when done well.

To effectively negotiate your next contract, follow these five steps.

As an independent professional, one of the most essential skills you can develop is the ability to negotiate business deals. If handled correctly, negotiations can solidify client relationships, set your project up for success, and help you grow your business. If handled incorrectly, you may compromise on something that is ultimately bad for your business, fail to protect yourself from a legal standpoint, or settle for less than your services are worth.

Follow these five steps to successfully navigate your next contract negotiation.

1. Do Your Research

Preparation is essential before going into any sort of negotiation. Start by funding out as much as you can about the company or client on the other side of the table. Not just the basics about what they do, but also important details like their current financial situation, their past performance, and even current trends in their industry and if and how they are responding. The more you know about their position, the stronger you can make your own case.

In addition, be sure to research your own position as well. Study the market, do the math, and take a look at similar industry offerings. Be prepared to discuss the reasons your services are priced the way they are and the value you bring to the table. This way, you can justify your services and cost with hard facts and statistics.

2. Have a Strategy, but Be Flexible

While it’s critical to walk into a negotiation with a plan already in place, it’s just as important to remain flexible during discussions. Remember to keep your main objective and goals top of mind, but at the same time be aware of what you’re willing to give up in order to make a deal.

3. Aim for a Win-Win Outcome

Negotiations are often thought of as win-lose situations in which one side gets what they want while the other eventually caves. However, the ideal outcome to any negotiation is one where both sides emerge happy and satisfied that they’ve reached a beneficial compromise. Listen carefully to the client’s requests and try to accommodate them as much as possible without compromising your own needs.

4. Think Before Acting

There’s a lot to think about and keep straight during a negotiation, so keep in mind that relying on your first instinctual response probably isn’t a good idea. Trusting your gut and making a quick decision based on emotions may lead to an agreement that you’ll regret soon after. Instead, take time to carefully deliberate and gather your thoughts before deciding or responding to a question, even if it is in the middle of a fast-paced conversation.

5. Know When to Say No

Not all negotiations end in ideal compromise. Don’t be afraid to walk if the negotiation doesn’t seem to be moving in a favorable direction. Just because you close the door on this particular deal doesn’t mean you’ve shut yourself off from all future possibilities.

Accepting a deal that isn’t beneficial to your business does more harm in the long run than walking away now. Ending negotiations on a friendly note, even if you’re unable to reach an agreement, can leave the door wide open for future negotiations and a more favorable position the next time around.

While negotiating isn’t the most glamorous part of running a small business, it can create a strong base for a client relationship and help set your project up for success. The more you negotiate, the more you’ll learn what tactics work best for you and the more comfortable you’ll become with standing up for your requirements and finding an ideal compromise.


Related Posts

Five Tips for Staying Legally Compliant as a Small Business

When starting your own business, there are many factors to consider. It’s important to make sure you are ready both emotionally, professionally, and financially. You’re probably putting a lot of effort into finding clients and getting those first projects up and running. Something that’s easy to overlook in these early months is compliance. Compliance can…


An Independent Professional Brand: What It Is and Why You Need One

The US independent worker population numbered 64.6 million in 2022, a 26% increase over 2021, which at 51.1 million showed 34% growth over 2020. Such impressive growth points to fundamental changes in the workforce as more and more enterprises strategically deploy independents to boost business growth and competitive advantage. While this is great news for…


4 Steps to Double Your Consulting Revenue in 2023

Increasing revenue is a common goal for many independent consultants. Having a stable base of monthly income is great but building on that success to truly achieve your financial goals is even better. In February, executive coach Melisa Liberman hosted a webinar where she outlined four steps to double your consulting revenue. Check out the…




Learn more about the MBO Platform


Start, run, and grow

your independent business with MBO


Engage, scale, and optimize

your independent workforce