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Dressing something up doesn’t change what it actually is. You can try and convince yourself that the massive discount you were pressured into allowing is in fact a masterful negotiation trick, but that’s just “putting lipstick on a pig”.

Pressure gets to us all. Applying extra pressure in a negotiation may border on unethical, but is very profitable and almost never has any consequences, so it has become second nature of clients when dealing with independents.

Let me provide a reality check about your negotiating power:

  1. It’s not about who has more resources – it’s about who could lose more (usually not you).
  2. Individual deals are a small proportion of your revenue – you will be fine if you walk away.
  3. You might think they treat you as worthless, but they simply can’t see most of your value.

If we connect those, the reality is this: the power lies with the side that would be hurt less if no agreement was reached. Since typically you have many projects each year, losing any single one is probably going to be more annoying than dangerous. You don’t want to depend on one client anyway, as that’s not entrepreneurship, it’s just having a boss with fewer benefits.

You have more leverage than you think. To get the whole story, look for another curious animal that shows its head in negotiations only after you use that power: the stunned fox.

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