Just because you're running your business on a tight budget doesn't mean you have to forgo needed items and services. While it’s always nice to get paid for your efforts, payment doesn’t always have to come in the form of cash. If you’re open to bartering, you can earn a lot of valuable products and services. The opportunities are usually plentiful, but sometimes it just takes a little extra digging to find them. And, you have to be respectful and understanding of other companies’ policies.
Many business owners don’t openly advertise that they barter, and a lot of times you’d never know unless you asked. Sometimes it’s because they prefer cash and don’t want to broadcast the fact that they’d barter; other times it’s just because they’ve never entertained the idea.
Here's how bartering can help you get what you need, giving you greater success in your business.
Benefits of Bartering:
Obviously, bartering can save you money. By paying for something with your own products or services, you don’t have the out-of-pocket cost. And, if it’s a service you offer, the cost is simply your time. Bartering can help keep your business’ budget in check.
Bartering can also be a great way to advertise your business. By trading your services, you may get exposure to those who may not have otherwise used your products or services. It can also be a way to break into new business circles and networks. Bartering can be a great way to increase sales.
How to Get Started with Bartering:
If you have a business, a product, or a service, you can barter. If you have something that someone else needs or wants, you have the power to make a deal. This is just one reason why it’s great to network with other small business owners both online and off. It’s much easier to broach the topic of bartering in conversation if you’re already an acquaintance.
Don’t overlook people you know outside of your business. Family and friends who offer legal, graphic design, consulting, or other services may be an easy, immediate resource for you.
You are much more likely to be successful in striking a bartering deal with other small businesses. Larger companies don’t have the time to manage these types of deals, or the need to, really. Small business owners and individual proprietors are much more receptive to such agreements. They have the time and motivation to get their name out there.
Things to Consider:
Be realistic and barter smart. Don’t sign up for services or products that you don’t really need. Make sure that you are making a valuable deal for yourself and the business you are bartering with. At the same time, don’t give away more product or services than you can realistically afford. Be sure not to overextend yourself.
Also, keep in mind that not everyone will want to barter. Some business owners will only take cash payment, no negotiating. That’s completely fine and their prerogative. Don’t be offended if your offer to barter is turned down. Most likely it doesn’t have anything to do with how they perceive you, but rather simply how they choose to run their business and their current priorities.
By joining a barter group in your area, you will get immediate exposure to those who you know are already open to the concept and currently engaging in the practice of bartering.
Tips for Reaching Out:
I’ve seen several products and services bartered and even done some myself. I, and some other mom website owners I know, have even traded ad space or given it at a reduced cost in exchange for another product or service. However, when approaching someone about bartering, it’s best to keep a few guidelines in mind.
First, make sure you’re offering a dime for a dime. In other words, don’t expect someone to give you six months’ worth of free premium advertising space in exchange for a pair of crocheted booties. Be realistic and fair. But, also take into consideration your production costs, hourly rates, etc. Be honest and offer to trade what your product or service is worth.
When contacting someone about bartering, be very specific. Lay out exactly what you are bartering and what you expect in return. Be willing to negotiate and be flexible. However, keep your overall goal in mind. How is this going to benefit your business? Don’t lose sight of what’s most important to you.
Need tips on writing a bartering proposal that get's results? Check out this post!
When thinking about your next purchase or project, be creative and consider bartering! With a little creativity and cooperation, you are sure to come up with an agreement that is mutually beneficial for everyone involved.
One last note about bartering. The IRS has rules set in place for bartering, so be sure you familiarize yourself with these so you're in compliance. This article from the IRS website covers what you need to know.
Dawn Berryman is the founder of MarketMommy.com and Market Mommy:: The Blog, online marketing resources for mom entrepreneurs. Market Mommy shows moms how and where to market their businesses. She holds a B.A. from Indiana University and has worked in the marketing/communications field for more than 11 years. She resides in rural Ohio with her husband and three children. For more information, please see: Market Mommy.