4 Proven Negotiation Tips For Small Business Owners

I was recently speaking with a coaching prospect who wants to take his freelance business full-time. I asked him what some of his concerns were and the first thing he said was he wasn't sure how to negotiate his rates.

Truthfully, this is a pretty common concern across industries. It's also common among the regularly employed. It's certainly a fear I had for years, but I spent some time really working on learning negotiation tips for freelancers. With time, I was able to increase my rates and ask for more money confidently.

Below you'll find some of my negotiation tips for freelancers. Again, feel free to customize this in a way that works best for you.

1. Believe you deserve to make money.
When I'm working with coaching clients on their freelance business, there's usually some underlying fear that they aren't good enough to ask for the kind of money they want. They compare themselves to others, are afraid that a prospect will scoff at them and generally just don't feel confident in their skills.

That's why I always start with their beliefs around whether or not they think they can make money. Truth be told, if you don't believe you deserve to make money then you probably won't. Additionally, if you don't get this squared away then it won't matter how many techniques I teach you because they probably won't work.

So if there's anything you get from these negotiation tips for freelancers let it be this: You must believe that you are worthy of making money.

2. Get specialized.
Another common mistake I see among freelancers (and I mistake I made for years) is they don't specialize in anything. Instead, they try to get any gig they can. If that's what you're doing then of course you're going to feel uncomfortable because you're trying to mold yourself into different things! You're not owning how good you are at one specific thing, you're just trying to be good at everything (spoiler alert: no one is good at everything).

That's why my second negotiation tip for freelancers is to get specialized. Figure out your niche. Decide on what kind of writing you do and get really good at it. This will not only help you feel more confident, but it will also make prospects more willing to pay higher rates because they are getting an expert.

3. Research the market.
The more information you have on your side, the better your negotiation will go. For example, I recently had two prospects who wanted similar writing work. They were also similar companies that were about the same size. Since I'd been in conversations with one of them already, I knew what they were willing to pay. I then used that information to quote the other company because I already knew what the going rate was. The end result was I got the rate I wanted.

4. Realize it's not about winning or losing.
One of the most important negotiation tips for freelancers is to realize that a negotiation is not about winning or losing. It's about making sure both parties are happy.

I once had a teacher explain to me that assertiveness is when you value yourself as much as you value others. It means you're not trying to step on them and you're not putting yourself on the backburner, it means you see every party involved as equals. This changed my life when it came to sales negotiation!

Sometimes that means you have to be willing to walk away, and that's totally okay. The important part is that you saw yourself as equal to the other party.