Everywhere you turn you will hear people talking about negotiation. It has become one of the “in” words and is often associated with big company deals or inter-country politics. In fact, negotiation is a part of everyone’s lives and is undertaken daily. You will notice that every day interactions involve discussing options with someone and agreeing to take a certain path. This may be a promotion path, the way to finish a project or even as simple as what time you will be home for tea. Every time you engage in a consultation exercise with someone you are, in fact, negotiating to achieve the best possible outcome for everyone involved.

Why aren’t your current skills working? Believe it or not, it is always possible to improve your negotiating skills and the following tips will help you to become a better negotiator:

The 3 key steps every negotiator should master

Engaging in a negotiation means engaging in a conversation. For the meeting to end on good terms, the people involved must reach a mutually favorable agreement. Here are three basic steps you should learn to master.

  1. Your own objectives - It is vital that you know what you want and need from any negotiation. You should also be aware of what the worst offer is that you would be prepared to accept and what your options are if this is not met.
  2. The other party’s objectives - Knowing what the other party wants before you negotiate will enable you to look at ways in which it might be possible for both parties to walk away from a meeting happy. It will also provide you an insight into how they operate and where they might be able to be flexible. You will then be able to build your argument around this and provide them with a satisfactory alternative which they are unable to resist.
  3. Basis for negotiation - Once you know what you want and what they want you will need to know why. If the other party has called the meeting there will be a reason for it and this may be fundamental to obtaining a good result.

Overcome your fears

Most business people have a baseless fear of negotiation. This is probably founded on a lack of perceived experience and a fear of being asked a question that you cannot answer. Provided you have prepared for the meeting this is unlikely to happen. If you know your subject then you will be able to work out the best answer to any question.

Make smart choices

Every negotiation is actually just about choices. You have your needs in mind and you should also be aware of what you are prepared to concede in order to get your demands met. Sometimes this choice may even be that you must walk away from a deal. There is little point in doing a deal when there is no benefit to you. Knowing your options before a negotiation will make this difficult but possible decision.

Think creatively

No matter how well prepared you are for a meeting you must be able to keep your mind open to new possibilities. It is often the case that the most obvious or logical route is not the best. A creative approach can allow you to see and exploit options that may not normally have been considered. You must remember that the same approach will not work in every negotiation.

Appreciate constructive criticism

There is little doubt that the other party will make an attack on your plan of action. You should remember that this is not a personal attack. Likewise you should never launch a personal attack, always keep your focus on the options and the discussion not the people involved in getting a solution.

After any negotiation, whether successful or not you should take the time to evaluate the proceedings and see where things could have gone differently. You should do this as soon as possible after a meeting to ensure you have the facts straight in your head. This will provide an excellent opportunity to improve your negotiation skills for next time. It takes time for someone to master the art of negotiation; the good news is practice makes perfect. The more you learn the better chances to have to succeed.

Otaku tea Logo designed by Billy Gold

Otaku Tea Logo


Small Biz Triage was approached by a talented young tea maker who wanted to start a business.  Initially we discussed securing a booth at the NW Tea Festival.  The catch: the business had no name, no website, no packaging, no brand, no strategy, no budget ... you get the picture.

Otaku Tea - Booth Concept by Billy Gold

Booth Concept


The three things the client had going for her was:

  1. Her blended teas were fantastic
  2. She had no desire to be like everybody else
  3. She realized that she needed our help

We culled together our zaniest team members for a marathon brainstorming session over about a 10 cups of tea and decided on "Otaku Tea". From there we took the client's interests (cosplay, anime, vintage gaming, etc) and worked at creating a brand that would appeal to both anime and steampunk.

Many wondered how we did all this on a micro budget on a 4-week schedule. The client was kind enough to give our creative team a LOT of elbow room, and dammit we loved it.

Otaku Tea - Booth Concept 2

Booth Concept 2 by Billy Gold

The days were definitely blending together the closer we got to the festival, but it was worth it.  All of that raw passion shined in through in the product and presentation, gave them a truly different experience. The lack of budget forced a refreshing level of creativity ... couldn't secure hot water for the tea, so it was brewed cold.  Packaging was a combination of envelopes with homemade anime 'postage' stamps, and chinese takeout containers. 

The booth display was culled together from Home Depot parts, and scrap metal.  The website was customized from a free WordPress theme, with free fonts.  We cashed in trades with friends, family, second cousins and ex-girlfriends to secure all of the booth decorations.  Facebook, Twitter and a MailChimp account were put to good use.

The stripped-down computer monitor in the display and laptop to play anime clips were also procured via trade with a local computer repair shop. In return, we pushed a lot of their marketing collateral at the Festival.  Hell, even the lightbox was a re-purposed busted Clear sign.

Otaku Tea Booth Display - Final Product

Otaku Tea Booth Display - Final Product


The Otaku Tea Booth was clearly the crowd favorite at the festival. Sales were fantastic. A little too fantastic – we ran out of tea on the first day!  The client was stoked, we were stoked and their first customers were stoked.  The festival drew over 1,500 people over two days.


They are making their next batch of tea for sale and regularly blogging (give it a read here) about anime.


Prepping their first email newsletter (MailChimp), and attending the National Steampunk Convention in November to network with some of the target demographic.


Concept      Nate Wright, Aaron Calzado, Niki Desautel
Name:         Aaron Calzado
Logo:           Billy Gold
Display:      Billy Gold
Packaging:  Nate Wright
Setup / Teardown: Lucy Kee, Kris Pendelton

Practical Creativity is Kenny Judd, Artist, Father, Husband and dreamer.

Like a modern day Dr. Frankenstein Judd breaths life into his toy friends as an old doorstop become a body, pieces of driftwood become arms, bungee-cord springs take shape and sprout legs, and marbles and washers open up and become eyes.

Like our good friend Gepetto, Judd creates one of a kind toys out of unwanted or forgotten pieces of furniture, nuts, bolts, washers and nicknacks which he rescues from the dusty corners of attics and garages.
Kenny teaches us how art can be produced using a little creativity, a lot of heart, and a bit of marine epoxy.

Take a look at some of the results of our partnership with Kenny:

Contact Nate to learn more about our Etsy marketing packages. [email protected]

Know yourself

If you’re confident with who you are and know that your intentions are in the right place (that being….for your customers, not just yourself), then you’ll overcome the greatest barrier to selling….YOURSELF!

If you know yourself, you’ll be confident with what you know you know, and what you know you don’t know.



Know your people

Your customers give you all the signs necessary to sell successfully

  1. Ask what they need
  1. If your customers are the ones telling you what to sell them, you can be confident that you’re not pushing a scham and thus remove nearly all of the guilt from selling
  1. Ask how you did for them in the sales process
  1. Ask what else you can do

If you learn more about what your customers REALLY want and who they REALLY are, you’ll serve them with lass guilt and more confidence, along with having the newly found power to duplicate them in all of your new customers.



Know your products / services

Once you combine a product / service that you love with the latest and greatest iteration of what your customers tell you they want and need, you will unlock the “selling fountain of youth”…the ability to keep your skills in sales fresh, honest and most of all valuable to your customers.

Never, never, never compromise the right thing for the “right now thing”

Let’s keep this one as simple as possible….”I do the right thing, every time”



Lay off the Hype!

Only share / sell the really cool things that you think are amazing, not the things you think will get potential customers to buy from you

If your sharing something strictly because you think customers will like it (ie. Products that evolve from your previous customers suggestions), TELL your customers!

People are surprisingly open to suggestions from someone they believe has their best interest in mind.

If you’re confident with who you are and know that your intentions are in the right place (that being….for your customers, not just yourself), then you’ll overcome the greatest barrier to selling….YOURSELF!

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Glendale, CA

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