Want to make more money? Negotiate. Want to get a better price with a vendor? Negotiate.  Want to hire that rock star new hire? Yup, you guessed it....negotiate. 

Over the past 25 years, I have helped thousands of business owners scale and grow their companies to new heights. And the single most important skill that all of them have had to master, is the art of negotiation. Unfortunately for many small business owners, the mere thought of entering into a negotiation causes their anxiety levels to rise. And for many this fear can impede their growth significantly.

Here are the top five things that I teach all our coaching clients to do right before a big negotiation.

1. Have An End Goal In Sight.

This seems like a no-brainer, but you would be amazed at how many people show up at the negotiation table without a clear idea of what they really want out of the negotiation. This rookie move will cost you millions in increased overhead, lost sales or missed opportunities. So before you walk into the discussion, sit down and think about why you are even there in the first place and what you hope to achieve. This simple exercise will help soothe your nerves, and give you the confidence to go after what you want. 

2. Roleplay The Best Possible Outcome.

The hours leading up to a big negotiation can be really stressful as you think about the unknown. Calm your anxiety by roleplaying what the best possible outcome will look like. Will you leave the room with a three year contract? Will you get a significant price reduction on that piece of equipment you really need? Go over the best case scenario in your mind to prep for the big day. 

3. Roleplay The Worst Possible Outcome.

On the same note, don't forget to look at the worst possible outcome as well. Now for many who suffer from anxiety regularly, you don't have to tell yourself to do this part. Your mind is already going through the different permutations of the negotiation and laying out the worst possible outcomes. Take a minute and let it happen. By giving the feelings validation, you can begin to analyze them objectively. What if you don't get that discount? What if you don't get the contract? Would you walk away? Determine what your stop point is.

4. Have a Plan B.

Another sure fire way to ease negotiation anxiety is to have a plan B lined up. Imagine how much better you would feel if you went into a vendor negotiation knowing that you had three other back ups in place should you not get what you want. Having a plan B....or C will allow you go into a negotiation confidently.

5. Breathe. 

Inhale. Exhale. If you have gone through steps 1-4, you are going to be just fine. Go into the negotiation room feeling confident knowing that you have done all that you can prior to the discussions.

Good luck!

Published on: Feb 19, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.