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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10 Mar

Barter BEFORE your business is in trouble

Posted in Training by


The other day I was telling my son about someone I was trying to recruit into my barter exchange.  To my surprise he said he hoped they won’t join.  When I asked him why he said that too many of the businesses that I barter with go out of business.  I couldn’t help but laugh out load.  He’s right!  Too many do go out of business and I think I know why.

First, let’s be honest here;  cash is better than barter.  Yes, I said it…. and it’s true.  So with that in mind, any business that already has all the cash business they can handle shouldn’t bother with barter.  So the businesses that should be using barter are the folks who would like more business than they currently have.  Many of the organizations in that category are great healthy businesses that simply have some excess inventory or service capacity that they want to take advantage of.  These are folks with vision who can think outside of the box and are interested in new ways to expand their business.  Those are generally the best people to barter with.

Another group of potential barter partners are the folks that have businesses in various stages of failure.  These are folks who are using barter in desperation because their business is going so badly that they are willing to try anything to keep it afloat.   As you may have guessed these are less than ideal people to barter with.  Not only are relationships with these businesses often short-lived, but it is not unusual for people to be more …. morally flexible… as their financial situation goes downhill.

The solution is simple;  Use barter as one of your many tools to keep your business profitable so you never fall onto hard times.    Use it early.   Use it often.  Find a mentor who has experience with barter to help you get the most out of it.  Businesses that I’ve bartered with don’t fail because they trade.  They do however sometimes fail because barter was their last resort.

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