Last year I took a trip to Bali, Indonesia. A day after I arrived I went shopping to find saris and scarves for a visit the next day to a water temple. My guide had given me an idea of what these items would cost and suggested walking away if I thought the price was too high. I found colorful saris I liked and haggled a bit before happily returning to the resort with my purchase. Later in the day I realized I hadn’t gotten a very good deal at all. The combination of jet lag, a short timeline in which to purchase, and my poor attempt at converting the exchange rate of 13,000 Indonesian Rupiah for one US Dollar in my head had foiled my negotiating skills.

You Have More Experience Negotiating than You Think

Negotiation can feel overwhelming, especially because we may feel like we don’t do it often in the U.S., where items are usually priced as marked, unless they’re big-ticket items like cars and homes. But if you think about it, you’re negotiating nearly every day – with your partner, kids, coworkers, and yourself – over what will get done, how, and when.


Negotiating Tips

As a business owner there may be a number of things that you can negotiate, such as the lease price for your space, and the price for services you utilize or products you purchase. Take my Bali shopping story as an example of (mostly) what not to do. 

  1. Do your research. Whatever you are purchasing or leasing, do your research on what the standard price range is in your area. A space for rent in downtown Des Moines may have a different price tag than the same-sized space outside the metro. Know what the price includes and do some comparison shopping. Talk with others in your industry or trusted friends and advisers about the going rate.
  2. Know your own mind. What are your requirements? What must the ticket price include for you? And how much are you willing to pay? If you have a good sense of what is important or not for you, you may be less likely to be swayed by emotion or a crafty sales pitch.
  3. Listen to the other party. This is the step most of us forget. You may be so caught up in what you want, you don’t pay attention to the other party’s desires. What is it the other party really wants out of the negotiation? If you listen, you’ll find out, even if it’s not something that was in an advertisement. Even more than the asking price, perhaps what the landlord really wants is a reliable and conscientious tenant.
  4. Be willing to walk away. If it turns out the offer wasn’t what you thought, or the product/space/service looked better on the screen than in person, or you just don’t have a good feeling about it, be willing to walk away. It may be you need time to step back and clear your head to try again later. It’s also possible you just need to walk away completely, especially if someone is difficult to deal with or unwilling to negotiate in any way. That could be a sign this isn’t someone you want to do business with in the first place.

These are just a few considerations to keep in mind while you negotiate as a business owner. You may not do it as well as you like, but you’ll get better with time. I did much better the second time I negotiated in Bali, and even started walking away when the sale price was too much. Ultimately, I got a souvenir I love for a fair price.


Please contact me at 515.238.4683 or if you have questions about negotiating or any other aspect of your health & wellness business.