Running a small business can be a bit like creating a delicious dinner. It requires a multitude of different ingredients, which, when blended together, (hopefully) creates a sumptuous meal. But what do you do when you are missing a vital ingredient from the mix? When your sights are set on creating that perfect feast, but your budget won’t stretch far enough for you to simply buy in everything that you need! If you find yourself in this situation (and many small businesses do), then why not consider looking for a skills swap?

Why Opt for a Skills Swap?

Running a small business is extremely rewarding but it can also be incredibly tricky at times. You’re often dicing between tasks; peppering up some copy writing one minute, followed by a spot of bookkeeping the next. The number of chefs hats that you find yourself wearing are countless. There’s HR Manager, IT Technician, Social Media Manager, Event Organizer, Sales Rep, Accountant and sometimes, even that of a Lawyer. This means that as the owner of an S.M.E., no day is the same which can be great – variety is the spice of life after all! However, we all have our strengths and weaknesses within a business, just as we all had different aptitudes for different classes in school. Some of us are Math wizards, whilst others are more gifted in the Arts. Likewise, it’s pretty hard to be a hot shot in all areas of business, so you hire a team of people with complementary skill sets to cover the areas you can’t. But even then you can still find that you are missing certain skill sets and that you can’t afford to pay someone to help you. This is where it’s helpful to opt for a skills swap to plug that gap.

How it Can Work

First, think first about what your company has to offer. What service or product do you provide? Don’t forget to consider the range of skills and knowledge-base that you have sat within your small team. Then ask yourself, what could your business benefit from, that you can’t already handle in-house.

Say for example you run a small video production company, you’re creative through and through. You love nothing more than shooting inspiring videos for your clients to showcase their talents. But, Maths is not your thing and your team hates numbers too. To solve this gap in skillset, you could try researching local accountancy firms online. making note of the way that they advertise themselves. If you can identify a couple of firms who could benefit from having an advertising video made, then you could reach out to them and offer them your service, in exchange for their help with your books. This can also work well when you or one of your team know someone in the company you’re reaching too.

Points to Consider

I recently did a skills swap myself and here are two of my key learnings.

  1. Set mutual and realistic expectations from the start. To do this, it’s helpful to draw up a short informal contract regarding the number of hours or value of the work that both parties will deliver and by when.
  2. It’s vital that both parties play fair and keep up their end of the bargain. Then if everyone is happy with the outcome of the swap, perhaps you can agree to do it again further down the line when you both require those skills again. Once you have a model that works, you could even build up a network of different companies who are open to working with you in this way.

So, if you don’t want to compromise on the quality of the delicious meals that you create within your business, try a skills swap to help ensure that you have all the required ingredients. You don’t know until you try, so start researching how you could add value to other businesses and what they could do for you. Then present them with a dazzling offer and see how the outcomes could benefit your businesses bottom line!