Twice in the past week I have heard great stories about trading and I felt it was a great topic to jump in on. Alan Donegan recently hosted an episode of Rebel Entrepreneur podcast titled Start By Trading where he spoke about trading and building a business initially through exchanges of services and/or finding deals on sites like Facebook marketplace, Craigslist, eBay, Merceri, OfferUp, and more. Meanwhile on The Indicator by NPR, they shared the story of Demi Skipper who is on a mission to trade a bobby-pin for a house.

Trading is the oldest form of payment and probably one of the most under-utilized today. I played Monopoly with my students today and it was so intriguing to see how they bartered with each other and how they sought to create value in their proposed trades.

Value is the key word. For a trade to be fair and successful, each person in the trade needs to feel like they are receiving something of equal or higher value than what they are giving away. In the best trades, both parties feel that they are trading up to something of higher value.

You may wonder how this works? How can both people come out of a trade feeling like they have more value than what they had going in?

Simply… people value different things and value things differently than you or I. What might be trash or unwanted clutter to one person, might be the very thing the other needs to complete a project or solve a problem in their lives. Every day we make trades with our money. We look at the money we have and weigh up whether a product or service is a good trade for our money. Some people go further and compare the trade of ‘time to earn the money’ and the potential purpose. Vicki Robin made this idea famous in her book Your Money or Your Life, where she talks about trading your “life energy” for money, and how much are you willing to trade for the lifestyle you currently have.

What is something you have lying around your house that you feel like you could trade with someone else. Set yourself a challenge to try and trade up your item for the most valuable thing you can in a month to see what you can find. This is a great way to practice sales and communication skills!

Alternatively, try to sell items you don’t need around your house. See if people will trade you for their hard earned money! Can you sell other people’s things for them and then profit share? No risk, no money input needed. The perfect Simple StartUp!

What are your trade stories? I’d love to hear about them in the comments or over email.

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