This guest post is provided on behalf of the faculty and staff of the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza School of Business Executive Online Education. Notre Dame Online provides professional courses and masters certificates in the areas of Negotiations, Business Administration, Leadership & Management and Advanced Intercultural Management for the current and aspiring business professional. “
In part 1 of this series, we covered several items that small business owners can negotiate as they are starting up a new business. We want to continue now by discussing negotiations to consider after the grand opening. Items one through five covered a number of overhead items that can be more helpful if they are considered prior to opening, but steps six through ten are also applicable to owners who are currently in the midst of their success stories. To really succeed in business, it is important to regularly take a break from your daily work and take a look around for business opportunities to capitalize on in your community.
You Never Know What You Can Get Unless You Ask For What You Want!
Remember that other businesses want to associate with great colleagues. Do your research first and then ask for want you want. Consider your accounts payable expenses. Sometimes to secure your business, the fees in a standard contract can be negotiable.
6. Maybe you can swap services for some of your needs. Join your local small business association chapter and network yourself and your business. You will learn great tidbits from other entrepreneurs who have “been there and done that.” Bottom line, it doesn’t hurt to ask, so ask and you just may receive!
7. Look at your supply chain. Can you find any ways to alleviate storage costs or inquire about stock rotation without affecting your end product or production levels? Save money by seeking agile suppliers in your area and by negotiating contracts with provisions to protect your production and material supplies. When possible, support local commerce and underscore those associations that you partner with in your social media campaigns.
8. Trial services. Advertisers and marketing firms want your business. Can you take advantage of a trial offer at a reduced or free rate for a short period of time? If you have a trial offer, be sure to make the most of it. Track your results so you know how to best invest your marketing dollars in the future. Some large and very successful companies have completed successful product and service launches using unpaid advertising. Make sure to also utilize the growing number of free social media websites. Social media campaigns are becoming extremely powerful tools for businesses of all sizes.
9. Don’t forget about shipping. Shipping services offer variable rates and specials at different times throughout the year. Be sure to inquire about bulk discounts and shop around for the best deals. If you are located close to other small businesses, you may want to leverage discounts together by using the same service or by coordinating pick up times. If at all possible, email first then ship. And if the file is too large to email, then it may be time to upgrade your IT network so you have the speed to send very large files (such as blueprints and CAD files).
Think Twice Before You Hire
10. Employees are your most important resource. They represent you, your business and their attitude and work ethics can make or break your business. Before you hire, take the time to do some in-depth industry research to identify exactly what kind of help your business needs. Perhaps you could outsource certain services such as accounting or online strategy; or you could use a co-op relationship with other businesses. Another great money-saving opportunity is to make use of college interns if you are near a local college or university. Before you go handing out too many keys, make sure you are hiring the best people possible.
Be sure you know what makes a good team. Employees are huge investments and building that perfect team is extremely important to the success of your small business. Consider educating yourself about powerful work style assessments and team building intelligence from a reputable institution. You can also run an Internet search to find out about someone using their name and other information from their application. Again, depending on available time, you can hire a service that will screen prospective employees, or there are free services out there which can provide additional resources to help you make your decisions. Building your team thoughtfully is one of the best investments you can make for the achievement of your goals.
Thinking outside the box and setting aside self-doubt are two key attributes of successful small business owners. To continue that success you also need to manage your costs. While negotiating the terms of every contract involving your time and money is time consuming, it is well worth the effort. When you feel good about your smart investments and your clear direction, then business just seems to fall into place more easily and you may just find yourself enjoying the decision to build your dream and further secure your own financial freedom.
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