5 Negotiation Books Every Startup Founder Must Read

We negotiate everyday.

For startup founders, your ability to negotiate will determine your success.

Whether with investors, between co-founders, your board, employees, other businesses, or customers, learning how to master negotiation tools can lead to better deals, stronger business-based outcomes, and more $$$.

Take your negotiation skills to the next level by reading these five books:

1. Real Leaders Negotiate!

Subtitle: Gaining, Using, and Keeping the Power to Lead Through Negotiations

Author: Jeswald W. Salacuse

Why It’s Worth Reading: The “let me be a shark and get everything I can” mentality to negotiation may be successful in the short-term, but it can have disastrous for the long-term.

For startups, your network is your net worth. Creating strong relationships, and negotiating with your employees, customers, investors, and fellow co-founders will require charisma, vision, and a collaborative mindset.

This book helps you understand how to wield your power and influence mindfully, both within your startup and outside of it, so that effective conversations and deals can be worked out.

2. Never Split the Difference

Subtitle: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended on It

Author: Chris Voss

Why It’s Worth Reading: This book teaches you the logical basis for emotions and how to leverage them within negotiations.

Startup founders’ focus on rapid growth can create bottlenecks and disastrous situations. Don't alienate or destroy your network. Chris Voss knack for storytelling gets you fully in the know as to how to use certain tools to de-escalate situations, influence counterparts, and motivate people toward satisfactory outcomes.

Flip the switch and harness emotions in a rational way in order to move difficult negotiations or conversations forward effectively.

3. Getting to Yes

Subtitle: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In

Author: Roger Fisher and William Ury

Why It’s Worth Reading: The classic negotiation 101 book is standard reading material for any negotiator.

Getting to Yes breaks down the essential parts of a negotiation in an easy to understand format, revealing how structuring negotiations for win-win outcomes requires some basics tools and strategies that anyone can employ.

The book will help you understand how to separate people from the problem (i.e., the personalization problem that many people have), how to invent options that lead to collaborative results, what to do should an impasse occur, and ending the negotiation on a good note.

4. The Power of Noticing

Subtitle: What the Best Leaders See

Author: Max H. Bazerman

Why It’s Worth Reading: Negotiations fall apart because startup founders miss critical information by not reading between the lines to know what isn’t being said. A founder will need to also become a people expert if their business is to survive and thrive. This book helps you achieve just that.

By making better decisions, noticing important information, and learning how to use these for leadership development, this book teaches you some serious wisdom bombs.

Master difficult conversations by spotting the hidden details that make successful negotiations possible.

5. Thanks for the Feedback

Subtitle: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well

Authors: Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen

Why It’s Worth Reading: Feedback is a form of negotiation. You’ll have to negotiate with the other side of they receive the information and make sure they actually implement the feedback. This book teaches you the nuisances of feedback from both an organizational level (i.e., how to create structures and processes to leverage feedback within a company) as well as the individual.

The framework used in the book is a good starting point for any founder looking to up their feedback game.

Last Words: Startups are high-pressure environments where ambiguity, fast-paced decisions, and chaos can be the norm. Founders need to learn how to manage these situations proactively. Excellent interpersonal skills, stamina, and the ability to see beyond the present-day picture are all skills that negotiation training teach. These books help founders hone in on these skills while providing actionable and relatable experiences to scaling a rapidly growing startup.