Trading Your Talents: When Does It Benefit You and When Does It Not?

Trading SerDo you do much trading with your colleagues and business acquaintances, exchanging your services or products for theirs? Prompted by a story that one of my clients told me, I have some thoughts I want to share with you.

Last month, this client mentioned she was very pleased with herself, having provided more hours of service than she realized was possible. When I asked her how this played out financially, she looked somewhat sheepish and admitted that quite a few of those hours had been done as a trade or deeply discounted. The good news was her capacity exceeded her preconceived notion of what was possible and the downside was she wasn’t massively monetizing.

This client has a monthly financial goal that she is striving to reach in order to establish herself as an independent business woman. My thoughts on her behalf were that doing a large volume of trades was not serving her financial objectives and I asked her to evaluate what other benefits she was receiving when trading services and to make a decision about which were most important. Then, she needed to evaluate her financial goals, determine the maximum amount of trade hours she was willing to do per month and stick to it. If nothing else, the time she freed up could be used to market to paying clients or catch up on office work, both of which often fell to the wayside. After our conversation, she made the decision to limit her trade hours so once those slots are full, she will be calendaring into the future if the person is willing to wait.

I think trading can be beneficial if you are new in business and want people to try what you are selling. If you go this way, I suggest trades or deep discounts be a part of your marketing plan. Again, limiting the number of trade hours you want to do monthly will help you keep yourself in check and support you to focus more on how to get paying clients in other ways.

If you are an established woman in business, trading services or products should be minimal. When you are trading with other business people, why don’t you pay for the other’s services or products? Wouldn’t it feel better to get a check at the end of the day that you can then use to pay them for what they offer? Do we believe we are getting more by trading than we would be if we were paying? Why do we like to trade so much and what are the “real” benefits?

It is important to evaluate the benefits you receive when you spend your time providing services or giving away products that bring you no monetary compensation. I am not against the idea of trading, BUT, too many women do too much of it. Please feel free to share your thoughts on this topic; I would love to hear your insights.


  1. Thanks Cynthia, yet again, for what seems to be you speaking directly to ME!..when I first decided to switch gears, learn a new vocation, and start a business, one of the main reasons WAS to have a service I COULD trade with…I was wanting to use my services to be able to start receiving regular ‘basic’ services I had needed to cut out of my tightened budget…with your guidance, this became a marketing tool, along with getting pretty creative in attracting paying clients, with various types of deep discounts/promos (not having any marketing budget)….it’s now almost 10 years later, and my life and needs are extremely different (the last 4 years I was unable to work/ disabled, and ONLY traded for services I needed)….

    I have recently discovered that I was AFRAID of success (all that came with it, both good and bad) and that I wasn’t worthy of it….I was so caught up in wanting to be liked and accepted into my community, that I continued with more and newer creative deep discounts/promos to essentially buy loyalty/repeat business….This unfortunately, became my (costly) ‘Silver Bullet’….my paying clients became so used to the deep discounts/promos, that they relied on them for their budgets…if I discontinued the ‘promos’ (raised my prices up to even the low end of industry standard) I’d lose the client….

    I’ve been working hard at trying to live in the moment, and not entertain the the ‘woulda, coulda, shoula’ thoughts, but if there’s one thing I could relay to any of your current and future clients, it would be to LISTEN TO CYNTHIA!…she definitely knows what she’s talking about!…

    I am extremely grateful for the knowledge and wisdom you tried to impart upon me years ago…at the time, I was unwilling to accept reality, and instead opted for spinning my wheels and choosing to stay in a miserable situation, because it was comfortable.

    • Thank you Linda for sharing your story. Retrospect can be a good thing and it sounds like you have a good handle on how to do things differently. I have heard your story before, from other women in business. The timing isn’t always right for being able to make changes and take risks. However, there seems to be a “lesson learned” that often show back up, just when you need it!

  2. Thank you for this wisdom, Cynthia. Trades/bartering have never felt right for me, I’d rather pay for a service and charge for mine. Receiving the payment at the end of the service is much more rewarding, for me. You’re doing great work, for women in business, thank you!


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