Bartering Your Services

Drawings illustrative of Captain Cook's First ...
Be wary of requests to trade or barter your services.  While it can seem like a good way to get goods or services without spending cash - think carefully.

- Is it really something you want or is useful for you and your business?

- Would you be prepared to pay for it anyway?  There's no point in trading for a product or service you'll never use or don't want.

- Make sure it's a like for like trade and of equal value.

- Be very clear about exactly what they're getting.

People take liberties when they think they're getting something for 'free' and will often push for more.

Make it clear this is a one-off or only applies to this transaction.  Any further work is a separate transaction and requires full payment.  If you've already given away or traded your services once - they may well expect a discount for anything else.

Does the person offering the trade actually value what you do or are they just after a freebie?  If they can't afford you normally, they won't value what you do and are more likely to end up being difficult to work with, quibble over price and ask for more.

One of the businesses I'm working with recently fell foul of this.  They agreed to a trade of equal value.

  • What they got wasn't actually worth it for their business.
  • What they offered was accepted and agreed. But the additional work they took on was changed several times and last minute changes and additions were even made on the day.

Needless to say a discount was also 'assumed' and they were left chasing payment.  Fortunately they've now been paid for most of the work but are still waiting for payment for the additional work completed on the day.

P.S. Be aware of the tax implications of bartering your services.

'Maori bartering a crayfish' (Photo credit: The British Library)

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