This week I’ll tackle the topic of swapping, trading, or bartering in your business. You may be saying, “Is that done in business today?” The answer is yes, all the time, but the days of swapping services for butter and eggs are long gone. Today the trades or swaps are for something that you need or want in your business, but don’t necessarily have the budget to spend on it.

When starting a new business cash is usually tight so entrepreneurs are looking for ways to swap services and products to get their business up and running. They trade for website and logo design, testimonials, creative work, editing services, writing copy, and designing marketing campaigns.  You need it, you name it, you swap it. There are even websites created to help you negotiate a swap. Easy right?

Not so fast. This one is tricky all around and not as straightforward as it sounds because both parties must go into this agreement thinking the swap is going to be a win for both businesses. I would love to tell you that every business owner is an ethical and fair business owner, but being a business owner for almost 20 years I’m somehow always surprised with how low someone can go. 

Yes we can all agree that they are valuable learning lessons in business but nevertheless, I’d like to help minimize and prevent you from feeling the sting from a swap gone bad. I’ve been there and done that and take it from me, it’s not a lot of fun. 

What Do I Need?

Sitting down and beginning with the end in mind is the best way to consider a trade. When businesses are starting there are a lot of wants, and needs and not a lot of money to get it all done. Three important questions to ask yourself:

  • What do I really need?
  • What business problem does this solve?
  • What is the business advantage I gain by trading?

When we started 2 Smart Girls we designed our signature virtual course called the Mini Mental Makeover. We were pros at designing and delivering workshops but a virtual workshop with a daily drip approach was something completely different for us. We decided to run a beta test with a group of women to hear what they had to say about it. The class was free and all we asked for in return was honest feedback and a testimonial that we could use for marketing purposes.

It was a success all around, for us and for them. The feedback we gained was invaluable and led to changes that we implemented and are in the course today. One of the changes was to add an audio component so the daily lesson was a podcast where they could listen to it vs. sitting down and reading it. They wanted the “and,” lessons in written and audio format. We happily implemented that addition to the workshop and it’s one of the features that women still comment and love today.

This swap was a success because everyone was very clear on the expected outcomes, timelines, and it was mutually beneficial.  No one was coerced into participating and we were straightforward with the what, why, and how around the trade.

But they don’t always go so smoothly. We’ve heard horror stories of scope creep – agreeing to one thing and it starts to snowball into something bigger. That’s tough to address, navigate and reign back in. There are stories of the swap changing completely once the work begins, or the final product received wasn’t the quality they expected, or both parties end up feeling frustrated with each other and part ways never speaking to each other again. 

With every situation there’s the potential for the good, the bad, and the ugly so let’s talk about what you can do to set yourself up for success if you’re considering a swap.

Do Your Homework

1. Do you trust this person?

Do you trust them as a person and a business owner, the quality of their work, and will they do the right thing if things don’t go as planned? How do they handle issues and problems? What’s in it for them to swap? Plan for the unexpected because it will happen

2. Get it in writing!

There’s something about having a written contract stating what’s expected of each party, agreed upon deadlines, and clearly defined outcomes to hold each party accountable.  When you see it in writing and agree to it, it’s more difficult not to deliver.

3. Ask for what you’re worth

This is not about a bargain, but asking for the full price of the service or product you offer.  The biggest challenge we’ve seen is making deals that are below what you would charge a typical customer and also swapping tangible products for intangible services.

Many people don’t understand the value of consulting, coaching, or providing professional services. If anyone ever says, “WHAT? You charge how much for what you do?” Run! They don’t see the value in the expertise, knowledge, and experience that you bring to the table.

4. Don’t rush into anything

Really think about if swapping is a good idea.  Consider what’s the next best alternative. With so much free information available could you learn and do the work yourself? Can you find someone who is starting out who may charge less for what you need, or is there someone in your network who can help you? Don’t be afraid to ask for help, it may not be perfect but perfect enough to get started. Tweaking can come later when you have more experience, more cash flow, and a better idea of what you really want.

I would love to tell you that we’ve heard more good stories than bad about swapping, but unfortunately, that’s not the case.  Too many times the guidelines of the swap are very loosely defined and end up benefitting one business owner but not the other. We’ve seen one person who is an overachiever and goes above and beyond, and one who does the bare minimum and calls it quits. Words of advice: Be careful and know what you’re getting yourself (and your business) into.

If you’ve experienced a great swap we’d love to hear about it. Tell us what made it so successful. On the flip side if you’ve endured a horror story we’d love to hear about that one too. Don’t be afraid to share, we all become a bit smarter and stronger by learning from someone who’s walked the path before us.

I’ll see you Thursday at 12:30 CST on Facebook Live.

Until next time be present, be strong, be you! Have a great week.














P.S. Curious how the brain works and why it’s always thinking negative thoughts? You’re not crazy and we’ll tell you all of the secrets about it in our Mini Mental Makeover. Check it out! If you have questions, send us an email at 

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