Would you barter your business away? Probably not, so why would you also barter the products that make up all of your creative glory? There are two benefits to trade: free awesome stuff and making connections in your creative community. But with these sweets come some sours.
Here are the not so benefits of trading your work: time, energy, ideas, and dreams walk out the door for zero dollars...it’s not a real world practice (have you ever traded for your rent, mortgage, or groceries?) and you are being undercut as is your fellow artisan because trade is ‘free’ and you're not that cheap!
I can keep going, but I want you to still like me at the end of this article so lets move onto the part where I boost you up again! So, here are 5 reasons to be proud of not trading your work--and these are things I know you already stand behind.
Reason #1: You’ll save, invest, and value the things you do purchase
Remember when you kept a penny jar or a piggy bank and then you grew up and opened a savings account? One reason we do this is to save up for something we truly desire. It’s not impulsive, rather when you get that last dollar and you can go out and buy the thing you have been craving you will hold onto it pretty tight. Be proud of saving up and investing in things worth having for you.
Reason #2: You’ll honor your fellow creative business community by buying their work
Call me crazy, but as a former creative business owner and a current client-based business there is no bigger pay off than watching my hard work be purchased, admired, and loved. Honor your fellow creative community by being willing to buy what they work so hard on. We understand better than anyone how great it feels to sell something and wrap it up--give this experience to your community. This is more memorable for them and you!
Reason #3: You will operate as a real, full fledge, money savvy business
Successful businesses understand where their money is coming from, how much they have to put where, and what profit they have built into their products to keep it running. When something is traded away that makes your other products go up in price--the profit has to come from somewhere and remember trade is worth zero. I never want to explain to a client their sessions cost more because I gave some away for free to a friend--that would be so embarrassing!
Reason #4: You are proud of your annual projection sheet, a system for success
There is no spot on a projection sheet for cost in dollars traded because that would just be so silly! A projection sheet is an annual sheet that you fill out with your fixed expenses like rent, and your controlled expenses such as materials and supplies. Then you add in your projected sales, profit, deduct your taxes and salary and you can literally watch your business grow. Trade physically deducts from your profit margin, and that margin makes or breaks your success.
Reason #5: You’ll gain respect in your industry as an expert
Bet you didn’t see that one coming! You might think that not trading would put a bad taste in another creative business owner’s mouth, but actually the opposite will happen!
Imagine this...you are approached about trade and you kindly turn someone down but offer to stop by their booth and browse. While browsing their booth you see something you down right must have and you shock them by purchasing with actual cash! Now if they turn around and buy from you great. But more likely having that cash in hand feels so good they may or may not want to spend it at all.
Then you begin a casual conversation where you empower them to respect their business and what they aspire to build that they don’t want to trade either. Instead the next time they have a business question or need someone to look up to, guess who they are calling or referring others to? You guessed it!
See, there is this funny thing about cash--it holds a different emotional and physical value for us than things do. Operate in cash and be proud of your work, you put price tags on it for a reason. Be attached to what you choose to invest in and watch that value grow over time with the story on how you bought it and the relationship you built by supporting another artist.
Andrea Mansfield is the owner of Brand & Bloom where she guides creative women using clarity about their purpose and passion for a successful business.
Main image courtesy of pixi acid