5 Clever Ways Other Entrepreneurs Can Help Your Business

by Tisha K. on 2008-04-0518

Running your own business as a sole proprietor or entrepreneur puts you in the driver’s seat and leaves you there for a long time. Your decision-making skills will be honed like in no other situation, except perhaps… in parenthood. And for countless entrepreneurs, operating a business requires goals of making money to keep both the business and the family afloat. Also significant to sole proprietors is the need to save money, or at least not spend more than necessary, while still working to keep a business fully operational.

To achieve your own business goals, it’s a great idea to be able to leverage the experience, support and services of other entrepreneurs who are — for lack of a better phrase — in the same boat as you are.

How Other Entrepreneurs Can Help Your Business

There are many ways a fellow entrepreneur can actually assist you with your business. Some possibilities:

#1 Networking. As a relative newcomer to the world of independent business owners, I may not always understand the rights and wrongs of growing and operating my business, but I have always been conscious of the power of networking. My father was a natural networker. He always knew someone that could help him out in nearly every situation. I can see how a single connection with a fellow entrepreneur can lead to many more fruitful introductions and friendships.

Networking allows you to meet people and learn about potential work opportunities you’d otherwise not hear about. By meeting others, you are opening yourself up to all kinds of prospects. But even more important is your ability to connect with other business owners and entrepreneurs with whom you share things in common. Those who have already been in your shoes or who are going through similar experiences may be more apt to help you out.

#2 Support and Advice. Other entrepreneurs can be a source of support and advice. Having someone who can relate to your experiences or who can act as a mentor to you can be a tremendous resource.

#3 Resources. A natural consequence of networking and building relationships with other entrepreneurs is the ability to learn from and educate yourself from the experiences of others. Information and knowledge sharing can be some of the most valuable benefits of being in a small business network.

#4 Referrals. Give your new friends a stack of professional looking business cards that they can hand out to their list of clients or customers. They can also directly refer you to people who are in need of your services. Word of mouth is often the best marketing tool a new business can have to find prospective work.

But how about some out of the box ways to leverage those business relationships?

small business bartering

The Barter System For Entrepreneurs!

#5 Enter: the barter system. This is a clever way to save some money as a business owner. Without the extra money to bootstrap my business, it took me a while to launch my own home-based career. Ultimately, it took 10 years and some resourcefulness, including getting into a bartering relationship with a friend who has his own computer technology consultancy. To start off my business, I needed new computer equipment to work with, which my friend offered me in exchange for my marketing services.

After nearly two years, my friend and I continue to barter. What he has provided me in software and maintenance, I have returned with marketing materials and speaking engagements. We do not take money from each other for services rendered at this point but have agreed to compensate each other one day, when we are both stable and financially secure. Beyond helping each other out during more financially vulnerable times, we’ve also referred clients to one other. It has been an exciting partnership of sorts where we’ve entertained thoughts of working together, given our complementary skills and services.

Developing Business Relationships Through Networking and Bartering

While not every person may be willing to “work for free”, there are plenty of people who understand the benefits of this archaic barter system in the modern day world, especially within the small business sector. Don’t be afraid to at least broach the subject with people you meet and trust on some level. They could very well be looking for the same type of assistance from fellow businesses but were too afraid to ask.

Consider networking and bartering with people you deem sincere and have some of your same values about work. You don’t want to get trapped in a situation where you’re constantly taken advantage of. You need to be able to work out some guidelines first and then go with the flow to see how things work out.

Be honest and “play fairly” because developing good relationships with business partners truly has many incredible advantages, while a business partnership gone bad can earn you a poor reputation and marred referrals.

Copyright © 2008 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael Temple April 5, 2008 at 10:42 am

I have used my networking partners to actually take on much larger projects than I could do alone. They provide both services I technically can’t offer (video production) as well as just extra hands to get large projects finished. This allows us to offer a client a turn key solution with lower overhead and we all benefit financially.

fathersez April 5, 2008 at 7:19 pm

This is so timely.

We have just salvaged a very good deal that was bombed out by the Indonesian Government changing the rules and placing the project in their negative list for foreigners.

We tied up with a local company and now the package is much bigger than what we had in the first place!

Ron@TheWisdomJournal April 7, 2008 at 7:35 am

I’ve never understood why there isn’t more bartering that goes on. When I owned a lumberyard, we did it all the time with our customers. It worked out great for both parties. When we needed someone to fix a driveway one of our drivers cracked, we would give the concrete guys a “free” deck package.

Silicon Valley Blogger April 7, 2008 at 4:04 pm

I wish we could trade our computer networking skills for home repair services. That would save us tons! But then again, people in the real estate trade probably don’t need to deal with computers much… not to the extent they’d need us to help them with it.

Meg April 7, 2008 at 7:44 pm

re: bartering. It certainly is a great idea, but I can see it being very difficult to get going, particularly in such a way that would be really beneficial considering the work put into it. Of course, if you already have contacts, it would be much easier. The problem is getting such contacts in the first place, or starting bartering from scratch. Having “A” and needing “B”, then running into someone having “B” and needing “A”… someone needs to start a site putting these two people together. 🙂

Ejudicator April 8, 2008 at 7:10 am

Meg you took the words right out of my mouth, and it is actually worth considering and freebarternetwork.com is actually available. That aside I have actually integrated bartering into my IM/Web company because I actually think of it as the new word of mouth. About 5 months ago I met the owner of an auction forum that was having trouble with some on-site SEO, in exchange I offered my services, helped him out and he provide a link to my site on his forum pages. To this day we keep in touch and if anyone ever asks me for assistance with auction selling I direct them to his site. Works so well, that I added the free option for my services.

Andrew April 10, 2008 at 2:28 am

I think with bartering usually results in unequal exchanges (i.e. the person who initiates the barter might want the service or offering more than the other party).

Maybe some enterprising entrepreneur out there can set up a website where you can barter in a 3-way exchange? Just a thought!

Greg Brave April 30, 2008 at 9:10 am

Andrew, in bartering mostly it is very difficult to estimate the amount of reward you get. I know cases when one might think that he had got less than his partner but after some time he realizes that he got plenty.

Goran Website Design May 17, 2008 at 6:10 am

As a service business, referral is important as people require businesses that they can trust. Networking makes this possible as we our trust those around us. Networking has built our business. As far a bartering is concerned there always needs to be a money exchange at the same time as the value will decrease.

Craig June 6, 2008 at 3:59 pm

Networking has been huge for the success of my online business.

I often try to attend regular offline seminars and events just so I can get to know people and start to build relationships with others in the same field.

As with a lot of things in life and business, it’s not always “what” you know … but “who”

michel November 26, 2008 at 9:47 am

I found over the years to keep a good relationship with customers that you have already sold to, don’t just grab the money and run.

The people that have had work done or bought from you before are more likely to have you again for the work they want done. If they are satisfied.

Gilroy Fernandez October 19, 2009 at 7:08 am

One of my friend runs his small business and within a short time he gets really good ROI due to the best business network strategy. Your post simplifies strategies on how I can arrange good business network for my own business like my friend. Thanks for the help.

john March 6, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Remember its all taxable at the full rate you would normally charge… IRS.

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