Have you ever heard someone tell you that you should trade or barter your fancy new life coaching skills in the beginning, to save you money on stuff you need for your business?
Maybe you barter for some website strategy help.
Or maybe you barter for some business coaching.
Or maybe you barter with your gym for some free fitness in exchange for your mad coaching skills.
I have STRONG feelings as to why this is a terrible idea, and I’d like to break them down for you today.
Reason #1 why you shouldn’t barter coaching: The bad energy factor
Money has a certain kind of energy.
We can call it lots of things, but for the purposes of this article, I’m going to call it fairness.
Yes, money equals fairness.
What do I mean by that? Well, we each understand and agree to the fair value of money. So when we exchange it for goods or services we are making, for the most part, an energetically fair deal.
It’s different with bartering – the value of some goods and service are not quite so clear. Even if you agree with someone else that one thing equals another, it’s not the same universal rules of fairness that we all ascribe to money.
Right now you might say that two hours of your coaching is worth 3 hours of training at the gym, or $200, but several months from now you might feel that two hours of your coaching is worth $300, or 5 hours of training at the gym…but that’s not the agreement you made with the owner. This leads to you feel grumpy, because the value of what you are getting has changed.
But $200 is always worth $200 :).
My point is that it’s easy to undervalue your coaching, or OVER value someone else’s service, so that you end up feeling resentful, overworked, or like you didn’t get a fair deal. Bartering can bring a bad energy.
Which can suck time and effort away from what is really important – getting paying clients ;).
Reason #2 why you shouldn’t barter coaching: It’s harder to get real commitment
Because money is universally understood, we all have a certain level of commitment when we use it for something.
It’s different when you trade for goods or services, because you aren’t always ascribing the same value to your work.
So, if I pay hard-earned cash for your life coaching, I’m usually pretty committed.
But if I’ve agreed to exchange life coaching for workspace, or free meals, or something else, eh – maybe I’m committed, but maybe it’s super easy for me so I’m not so much mentally in the game.
That means that I could be a difficult client for you, either by procrastinating, not really doing the work, or just not taking it as seriously as I could.
The side effect of this? As your client, I’m not getting great results.
Which means I value your coaching less (and may feel like I’m not getting a great deal from you, which leads to…yes, resentment!)
Again, this is bad for business.
Reason #3 why you shouldn’t barter life coaching: It’s easy to get less than the best
Let’s be honest, if you are thinking about bartering your life coaching for another professional service, it’s reasonable to assume you are doing it to save money or because you don’t have money.
I understand that!
But I do want you to think seriously about this for a second – if it’s something hugely important to your success, then you might want to find another way.
Here’s why: If someone has the time/space to barter their own professional service skill, chances are they aren’t the best at what they do … or they aren’t that experienced yet. If they were, they’d be charging full price. Or any price! 🙂
This isn’t a knock on you or on them, but it can be dangerous to choose someone based solely on cost rather than choosing someone who will truly help move your life or business forwards.
Are there exceptions to this rule? Of course. But be careful, and ask yourself: “Is this truly the best thing for my business right now, or is it better to do this when I have money to invest in getting the right help for me?”
Reason #4 why you shouldn’t barter coaching: Bad feelings
Bad feelings are a part of the first three reasons I listed here, but let’s get explicit on why you might experience some bad feelings…
-Because it’s hard to monetize what you are exchanging equally…
-Because your client might be less committed…
-Because you might not get the best support for your business…
It’s easy for one, or both, parties to end up feeling resentful, or like they got the bad end of the deal. What do you do if your “client” quits on you half way through, before they’ve fully delivered their part of the work?
What do you do if they are actually a terrible fit for your coaching, but you have already used their service?
What do you do if you end up feeling resentful every single time you talk to them, because it seems like you are doing so much more work than they are, and it’s frustrating you as a coach?
Here’s the thing: Building a business is hard! It takes a lot of energy and effort. And every second that you waste on something that drains you has multiplying bad effect on your business.
Not choosing to barter is an easy way to avoid these pitfalls.
But what if you don’t really have the money?
I have a few responses to that:
- Where there is a will, there is a way. So ask yourself: “If I really need this service, how can I find or make the money to pay for it?”
- Ask for a reduced rate – you never know when you may be able to get a discount or a special. It *never* hurts to ask.
- Wait. Sometimes we think we need something, but we don’t. Wait a little bit and see if the need is still massive. Then go back to step 1.
- Use google. It’s amazing how much information is out there – you may be able to find a free solution, or a way to get started without having to barter or pay.
I know these solutions aren’t perfect, and may not give you what you want or need. And I know that there are people out there who barter life coaching for other services and feel great about it.
But in my experience, the chances for failure are large and it’s not worth the risk.
So next time you think about bartering, revisit this article before you do and make a clear-eyed decision on what’s right for you, okay?
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