Women in Business Wednesday: Trading Skills and Services

Every business needs a variety of goods and services to help get up and running.  This can come in the form of models and photographers for photoshoots, marketing help for website creation, development help for apps or scheduling systems and so much more. Of course as a new business,  every penny counts. One of the most valuable tips we have for any new business owner is to explore opportunities for trade with vendors and partners.  If you are starting a business, more likely than not you have a service or good that is of interest to the people you are working with, and can offer up to help keep costs down while making it worth everyone’s time. Here’s our top 5 tips for using trade for your business.

1. Make your trade clear and concrete

Before you reach out to anyone, consider what you have to offer and it’s value. For example, I have a background in marketing and experience with social media tools. I often offer up hours of my marketing consulting in exchange for hours of other’s services that I’m not myself skilled in. I make it clear what my trade is (whether it is an hour for an hour or some other agreement) and set up any minimums and maximums so I don’t get carried away with my requests and vice versa. For example, when launching our website, my good friend who is an amazing copywriter was willing to trade some of her writing hours for my help in setting up some Facebook campaigns. Both our businesses benefitted and we were able to focus on our own strengths without worrying about taking advantage of the other.

2. Have realistic expectations

Even if you do find a fair trade, understand that you can’t necessarily expect your partner to provide their most expensive product or 100% top quality. Of course any professional will make sure you are happy, but work for trade is going to take second priority to paid work. If you go in with this understanding and expectation you will always end up pleasantly surprised and you’ll open the door for future trade opportunities.

3. Adjust your timeline

Similarly, give yourself more time than you need for a project to be completed. Since paying work will take priority and work for trade is often done during non-billable hours, make sure you discuss any timeline concerns from the beginning and make sure you give yourself enough time.

4. Be Flexible but Firm

When it comes to your own services for trade, you’ve agreed to provide a good or service and sometimes needs change, so it’s important to be flexible.  This is a delicate balance because you want to make sure you don’t end up exceeding your initial expectation of time commitment that was agreed upon. If the changes will take up significantly more time than you originally agreed upon, be honest and firm and communicate. For example, we sometimes offer trade for makeup services for weddings to friends we know have special skills we need (like graphic design or modeling). We track hours on both ends but there are times when on paper we have 5 services “in hours” but they have a last minute flower girl addition that we are happy to add in because we know they’ll not only appreciate it but be willing to help us in the future! However I still make sure it’s always understood what is committed to and if we’ll need to set any limits so that everyone ends up satisfied.

5. Understand if they say no

Last but not least, sometimes it just can’t be done. Don’t be afraid to ask for trade but always be gracious and understanding when someone just can’t accommodate you. Everyone has their own concerns and responsibilities and if they say no, then more likely than not, they can’t do their best work for your needs and don’t want to waste your time. Of course, I always thank them for their consideration of a trade project and just ask that they send any referrals my way if they do know anyone interested!

Starting a business will require all sorts of talents, skills and goods that you won’t be able to do all on your own. While it’s important to budget and anticipate as much as you can, if you are fortunate to have other talented people in your network it’s worth a shot! Don’t forget to stay tuned for our future blog posts every Wednesday for our Women in Business Series and as always, book your own #makeupforacause private rental and help other women reach their goals.