The Bartering Economy

How to get the services you need as a small business and a start up

As a small business or a start up, to be successful there is a real need to bootstrap it for as long as humanly possible, that doesn’t mean you should forego growth if there is cost involved, but it does mean that every penny is a prisoner in terms of costs.

This issue is that there are things that the business needs, which are essential but bloody expensive at the same time, if you don’t have the skills or experiance in those areas yourself.

Specifically im thinking:

  • Marketing
  • Contract law
  • Incorporation
  • Book Keeping

Although there may be other areas which you need some help with. If you get creative you can use some other strategies to get what you need without the need to spend as much as you may think or in some cases any of your hard earned cash.


This is possible, we just need to be creative and for the most part think about what we can barter with our peer businesses and those service providers that we use.

In the case of services that are paid for like the lawyer for example. A good contract lawyer probably runs to $500 per hour or more, a cost which is going to hurt cash flow. If you have 3 questions, you send the email, get the reply, send clarifications and that’s $1000 or more spent.

A cheaper way to get the same result is to take that Lawyer to lunch, probably costs $150 to $250 and since your asking the question face to face, you get the context of their reply so no need to follow up and spend more cash.

It also provides an opportunity to build a business relationship at the same time, rather than being a faceless transaction.

Going back to bartering, there will be gaps in your business skillset that you need to fill and then gaps in others business skillset that you have the experiance to fill.

Typically the things that people struggle with are book keeping and marketing. You can work with other businesses in your area and pool your resources to fill out each others gaps you can barter with time, with product or services and your skillsets that you bring to some ones business.

Im not suggesting that you get into bed with a competitor, but generally speaking there should be enough diversity of small businesses in an area that clubbing together can make sense.

Logistics costs, inventory storage, even office or workshop space, if your ready to move to that next step, you can work together with other businesses and save the cost.

You could also make a business itself out of these services, where you charge, take product, take a share of profit for example, for book keeping, marketing, legal services, really anything that has a tangible benefit to a business that has a gap to fill.

The point is there are lots of ways to create value for your business and others without having to revert to spending cash, just get a bit creative, go back in the time machine to when cash wasnt king and get bartering.


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