Bartering is a way of saying you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. Independent business people barter with other businesses as a means to help one another while keeping costs down. But what may start off as beneficial can end in lies, deceit, and manipulation.
I had never really understood how bartering worked. I had friends who did this and were very successful. They had built a history with people that were true to their word and the business relationship always worked. Both paries benefited from the others commitment. When I searched on the internet I came across countless sites that endorsed bartering. Businesses that are willing to make telephone calls in exchange for typing services. Flooring companies that needed a new website, offered to refinish someone’s floors if they would design their web site for them. No matter what services were needed you could find it offered on a barter site. But as I continued to research I discovered that not all barter relationships turned out successful. Here are some things to take into consideration before entering into a bartering agreement.
1. Equality-Ask yourself if what you are offering matches what you will get in return. An example of this is a dentist offering to clean your teeth in exchange for tickets to the opera. Would that be worth the time and effort? Would it be worth the cost of resources used in order to get the job done?
2. References-Although I’ve not bartered before I would feel more comfortable doing so if I knew a little more about the person wanting to make an exchange. Getting references would make it easier to see if they’re trustworthy. Speaking to someone that has worked with them before would give an idea of how it may turn out for you in the future.
3. Exchange sites-Many people use websites to promote their services. Sites like Craigslist, Barter-Barter, and U-Exchange are just a few places that you can sign up with to get your name out there and see who needs services. Some sites are free but others require a membership fee.
4. Local-When speaking with people, the success stories came from those that bartered locally. If you are an event planner that needs errands to be run then you can exchange your party planning services with someone that can take care of the things on your “to do” list. If you choose this route instead of the internet then you know for sure that the services being exchanged are being completed.
As with anything knowledge is key. Before entering into any type of business agreement it’s always good to do your homework. Unless you know the person it never hurts to do a little research.