23 Sep

Trading for half a steer

Posted in Bragging, Training by


One of the best things you can barter for is food;  everyone needs it and it’s definitely a recurrent purchase that you have to spend cash on if you aren’t bartering for it.  With that in mind, I have to brag a little that I’ve got half a steer chilling in my freezer that I bartered for 100%.

I started working on the deal well over a year ago.  I contacted a couple different local farmers to see who might need some of my company’s services in trade for some beef.  I found a couple possible barter partners (including one rancher that specialized in long-horns), but ended up finalizing a deal with a rancher that raises grass fed Angus beef.  My firm built a small/simple website (http://sonomanaturalbeef.com) for them in trade for credit with their company.  A couple weeks ago the deal came to fruition as I picked up 5 boxes of vacuum packed beef from a local butcher that was cut to my specifications.  Everything including the butcher’s services were purchased on trade.

As there usually are, there were a couple minor hitches in the deal that I should warn you about.  Firstly, before you try for a trade like this you should understand that I was dealing what you might call a “boutique” rancher that raises very good but pricey beef.  Make no mistake:  I am very happy with the deal, but I wouldn’t argue that buying beef this way is a good way to save money.  Secondly, I would warn you that a half a steer takes up a lot of freezer space:  more than many people have.  Make sure you are ready for that.  The last issue that I’ve run into has to do with the fact that I’m trading away a bunch of the beef to other barter partners and figuring out how to price the individual cuts has been a challenge.  When you buy half a steer, you aren’t paying per pound and there is no guide to figure out how you should price the ground beef vs. the bone-in rib eye steaks (see above photo).

Bottom line, food is one of my favorite items to barter for.  I strongly recommend that you make a deliberate effort to trade for good quality food.

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24 Aug

Bartering for office space

Posted in Bragging, Resources by


For all of us barter geeks, the holy grail barter deal is a recurrent deal for something that we would have had to pay cash for.  All the better if that trade is for a business expense.  As such I have to brag just a little because I am currently enjoying my second month in business offices that I am 100% trading for.  The trade is all-inclusive and covers space, power/water/sewer, heating/cooling, maintenance/cleaning, Internet access, furniture, limited meeting room access, etc.

It was a considerable amount of work to put together the deal.  Ultimately it was a personal connection that helped make it happen.  I started out by asking my existing business and barter connections if anyone knew of some local companies that have too much office space right now.  After several dead ends, I ended up with a contact for my current landlord.  They were in need of web development services (what my company does) and have a very large office will a significant amount of available space (due to selling off a division of their company).  Ultimately we settled on a hand-shake agreement for my firm to pay our “rent” in credit to our landlord to conduct online marketing work.  We will be supplying a monthly statement showing credit that they’ve earned with us and the amount of work we’ve conducted for them.

It’s not all sunshine and roses though;  there is a down-side to bartering for office space.  Honestly, I get the feeling our landlord is not particularly motivated to rent out the space we are occupying.  It feels to me like renting to my firm is a nice bonus for them as long as it’s not an inconvenience.  I don’t think it would upset them if we were to leave.  I can’t blame them for this attitude because their core business is not renting out office space.  What that means is that I’m not in a particularly strong position to ensure they fulfil the details of our agreement.

Over-all I have to say that (despite some detractors) that I am very happy with our new offices and hope for a long relationship with our landlord once we have some of the kinks worked out.

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20 May

How set up the impossible barter deal

Posted in Bragging, Resources by


Let me state the obvious first:  It’s not actually possible to do the impossible.  That’s what “impossible” means.  That being said, over the years I’ve made some barter deals that were hard to put together.  Deals that my friends and family said couldn’t be done.  These are the deals that make people say “Wow.”   I’m talking about bartering to pay employees, or bartering to put my kids in private school or any number of other unusual barter deals I’ve put together over the years.

Right now I’m working on one of the harder deals I’ve tried to put together:  Bartering to rent high end commercial office space.  It hasn’t happened yet, but I’ve got two different contacts that I’m negotiating with and I think I should be able to make it happen.  I’m hoping that the trade will be “full service” and include power/heat/Internet/cleaning/etc.

There are two main components to putting together the impossible deal in my opinion:

  1. The deal HAS to be a win-win for both parties.  As long as both parties gain, the deal is always doable.  It only gets truly impossible when you get greedy and are only looking out for yourself.  In the case of the office space deal I’m working on, I’m specifically looking for occupied space that is too big for the current tenant.  The ideal partner for this would be a firm that did some downsizing and has had a bunch of  empty space just sitting there for a year or more.  Because all of their office expenses are sunk, if they were to allow my office to move into their space, they will get all the benefits of whatever I trade with them at almost zero cost.
  2. You have to be tenacious.  When you are trying to do something unusual you have to expect that many people won’t understand the offer or will be frightened off by it.  That means that you  have to look at your deal like a salesman talking to prospects.  When I do this I know that what I’m offering will be a really good deal to the right company and I know that that right company is out there.  I tell myself that I will find the right deal if I talk to enough people.  It’s simply a numbers game.   If only 1% of my deals will close then I have to be ready to get 99 “nos” before I get one “yes.”

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