The Secrets To A Successful Barter


One of the most powerful things about the Lady Project is that it brings together ambitious and entrepreneurial women who have an incredibly diverse array of skill sets. When our powers combine - there’s no stopping us!

We hold the potential to help each other move our goals, passions, and businesses forward in meaningful ways. Especially for those of us in the beginning stages of our businesses, bartering services can be a great way to get started without having to make a hefty cash investment.

A barter is an exchange of services or products that provides equal value to each side.

Here are three important questions to address when setting up your barter:

1) Is there good chemistry?

Meet for coffee to get to know each other before you dive in. Look for good vibes in the relationship to ensure that you’ll each come to the exchange with excitement and enthusiasm! Tell each other about how you approach your work and bring work samples so that you can see the quality of work that you each bring to the table. Does her style and approach match what you’re looking for? Can you picture bragging about this person and their services to all of your friends?

2) Is it a win-win?

Make sure that the exchange of services will move both of you toward your goals in meaningful ways. Think it through: Is her service something you really want/need? A barter is not a favor - stop yourself before you give your services away for something you’re not really all that interested in. In that case, you should provide your services for pay. If it is the right fit, compare your rates to design a trade that represents an equal value exchange of services.

3) What services will you exchange and when?

Write a contract spelling out the services you will provide to each other. State exactly what you expect from each other in writing so you have a roadmap for how to proceed and have shared expectations (and excitement) as you begin. You must agree to treat each other as true clients, just as you would a paying customer. Bartering is a legit form of payment - because your time and your services have huge value! Commit to being professional and timely, and to follow through on the terms of your contract. If something changes in the course of the exchange, you’ll have the contract as a tool to revisit and talk through any changes in scope.

Here is a super simple sample of what our barter agreement looked like:

Carole Ann will provide the following life purpose coaching services:

  • Three months of one-on-one coaching: Four one-hour sessions/month (December - February)
  • Unlimited email support
  • Testimonial on Olivia’s personal styling services (upon completion)
  • Value: $750

Olivia will provide the following personal styling services:

  • Private consultation on body type and style image (January)
  • Three-hour closet session (January)
  • Five-hour personal shopping trip (January)
  • Event styling (as-needed January-March)
  • Testimonial on Carole Ann’s life coaching services (upon completion)
  • Value: $770

Your turn: Have you bartered services with a fellow lady? What went well, and what were lessons learned?

photo by Brister Photo

This is an updated version of a post previously published in 2014.