Please don’t do this…

Are you on Clubhouse yet? (if you’re not and you want to be, let me know and I’ll send you an invite).

I’ve been enjoying getting to know people on there and have listened in to some great talks from experts all over the world.

Since the app doesn’t have a chat function, people connect through Instagram. A few times I’ve gotten a DM from someone I don’t know after I’ve spoken in a room.  I received one such message from a person who was reaching out because she’s struggling to get her business off the ground. She’s a fabric designer but hasn’t been able to sell her designs.

When I engaged with her in the DM chat, she said, “What about bartering? I need a lot but have a lot to give!”

Ouch. No wonder she’s not getting clients.

Listen, it’s not like I haven’t done it myself.  I’ve bartered for items that range from voice lessons to cleaning services. It seemed like such a good idea at the time, like we were helping each other out. But after I did it a few times, I realized that it just doesn’t work.

First of all, it’s challenging to decide the value of the exchange.  Is one hour of coaching equal to one hour of cleaning, even if our price points are different? It never came out evenly for me.

Secondly, I found that one person’s needs were always greater than the other’s.  I never did use up all the hours owed to me after one project.  So that person vaguely feels like they owe me for that, except that I’ll never use the time.  That’s awkward (especially since it’s a friend).

And most importantly, I don’t barter anymore because, well, I want money! No matter how you cut it, bartering is giving your services away for free.  And that is definitely bad for business!

When I told m Clubhouse friend that I gave up on bartering years ago for all those reasons, she replied, “I always did my bartering by giving my piece of artwork first and surprise, surprise, at least three times people didn’t follow through on their end!”  I am not at all surprised (and I don’t think she is either).

I know there are communities that use bartering quite successfully, but it doesn’t work in business.  Please don’t devalue yourself or your products by doing it.

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