How to Stop Bartering & Discounting in Your Business


In this week's episode of Chill & Prosper, we’re talking about awkward money conversations (my favourite topic!).

Talking about money doesn’t have to be so painful, I promise! 

Spoiler alert: People asking for discounts or bartering arrangements and clients asking for discounts, this WILL happen. 

Unfortunately, I've seen people completely quit their business because they hate talking about money and saying no. 

That doesn't have to be you.

I promise it can be easy peasy! Let’s turn those awkward conversations into empowering opportunities for you!


I talk about ...

  • The energetic implications of bartering
  • How to shift the energy around clients asking for discounts 
  • The family and friends discount
  • The mindset of discounting
  • Alternatives so you don’t feel like a bitch


Hey, I am really excited about today because even though in business, I sometimes hate awkward conversations, I actually really like demystifying them for you. I often say that being in business is just having a series of awkward money conversations, but they don't have to be. I really like breaking down some yucky things in business so you can thrive and so things aren't a surprise.

Now, a lot of awkward conversations come up around money. People asking for discounts, people asking if you can borrow with them, people not being happy or asking for refunds, all of this stuff is going to happen in business. Unfortunately, I've seen people completely stop their business because of one or two of these potentially awkward conversations. That doesn't have to be you. How cool is that? That doesn't have to be you. As you're listening, I know that some of you are listening in your car or at work or just on the fly, so you don't actually have to remember some of the scripts we're talking about today because they are in my book, Chillpreneur. Okay, so you don't have to remember them, but I just want to talk about the flavor of these conversations so when it happens to you, you don't have to freak out about it.

We're going to talk in particular about two awkward money conversations. One, when someone asks you to barter with them or to swap services. Then the other thing is when someone asks you for a discount. Both of these things are going to happen, they're going to happen again and again, but they don't have to freak you out and you don't have to quit your business and run away and hide in a cave instead of having these conversations. Super easy.

Okay, so let's talk about bartering. What is bartering? Bartering is swapping services with somebody else. I see this a lot in new entrepreneurs in their first year or so of business, or I see people with a very nurturing personality, a very giving personality get stuck in these kinds of arrangements for years and years and years. So it could be, "Hey, I take photos, you do websites, how about I take your photos so you do my website and we won't exchange money.

Now this seems like a really great idea on the surface and it seems like an excellent idea at the start of your business when you have not very much money, not many resources. But as I said, I see sometimes people stuck in this for years and years because the idea of swapping money or idea of selling your services for money feels like a bridge too far. Or you just don't like saying no to people and so you get stuck in there, right? So you think, "Well, what could go wrong? Why is this not a good thing to do, Denise?"

Well, for starters, it's an energetic, symbolic thing about not receiving money. If you come from a long line of healers, for example, your great, great, great, great grandmother, she probably wasn't allowed to receive money for what she did because women weren't allowed to have bank accounts. Women weren't allowed to have money often so we had to learn to barter to survive. "I've got potatoes, you've got eggs, let's swap," or, "I can't afford to pay you so I'm going to pay you in kind, I'm going to pay you in goods." This happens still in small towns and that's totally, totally fine.

But we're about, how can we chill and prosper? Okay? It's great if someone swap services with you, but you can't spend that. You can't spend that on improving your life. You can't buy a new car with that. You can't buy kids' dance lessons. You can't go on holidays with that. If you were to be open to receiving actual spendable money, then bartering is one of those things that you just have to let go of.

I remember hearing this first from one of my money mentors, Kendall Summerhawk, and she says you have to have a zero bartering policy if you want to make money. Now this might sound harsh. This might sound unfriendly to you. You might feel like a B word out of it, especially if you say yes to people out of obligation or guilt, not necessarily because it's an equal exchange.

Now, have you noticed that sometimes you have done this and you've fulfilled your end of the bargain and they didn't fulfill theirs? Maybe they left, you felt feeling taken advantage of. Maybe they weren't really good at their part of it and so you feel like, "Oh man, I did this amazing thing for them and they did this crappy thing for me."

I've been on the other side of it where I did do a website for somebody and she did photos for me. She did incredible photos of me, some of my early head shots, and she got a very average website in return. So I was the one not fulfilling the bargain. It feels icky on both sides, so even if you agree to a very specific bartering arrangement, why don't you just pay each other? Why don't you just pay each other? I know why people do it, because they think, "I don't want to pay taxes. I don't want it to be awkward. I don't want it to be uncomfortable," but it just doesn't work if you want to attract more money into your life. Okay?

This could be something that you can renegotiate. Maybe you're in a bartering relationship with your coach, with one of your clients, with somebody in a mastermind from you. I'm not saying you can't ever do it. I'm not saying that. I am saying, however, if you have a goal this year to make more money, and I'm hoping that you do, then why don't you stop it? Why don't you stop bartering and see what happens to your flow of clients who will pay you actual, actual spendable money? How cool would that be? Yes, you might have to pay taxes on that if you exchange money with each other, but often, where ... a lot of times, women are at a disadvantage when it comes to getting business loans or mortgages or whatever, because of historically some of these arrangements that we've had, you want to show that your business is making money. If you want to get a house at some point or get a business loan or a credit card, you want to show that you are making money in your business. That's okay, it's safe for you to pay taxes.

Now, how do you do this? Because again, you might think, "Oh, it's so warm and fuzzy. It's really nice. Why do we have to pollute it with money? It works for me." As I said, we're already financially disadvantaged. Why would we continue to perpetuate an environment where we don't have actual spendable cash? So you can just stop you say, "Hey, great. Just let you know ..." Say for example, you're doing coaching for someone but you've only asked for an exchange of a testimonial. Maybe that's your bartering thing. Well, get that testimonial. So many people don't even get what they were promised. Say, "Hey, just to let you know, your free sessions are coming to an end next week," or whatever, "and so I'd be thrilled to move on to a paying arrangement with you. I'd be thrilled to put you into my program or my course or my X package that does Y." Okay, it is so much cleaner to go on with that. If you never have the conversation, they'll probably just keep on turning up for free stuff, right? It's it's very strange.

Now what will happen if you've been in this relationship for a long time and there was never any condition around it, there was never anything like that? You can still undo things. "Hey, just to let you know that I'm not available for the bartering anymore and I want to free myself up for some more paying work," or just something like that. "I'm not available for this anymore." You can send an email, you can talk about it on your next time, but this is going to stop the flow of money into your business because you are not open for business literally or energetically.

Also, when you have these side arrangements with people, your potential paying customers, it's like they can sense it. So you tend to attract even more of those people, or they ask for discounts or something like that, which is coming up next. Even with the best intentions, it can be messy and it can just lead to more and more and more. Okay? So let's not do it. What's going to happen? When you draw a line in the sand, refuse to swap your services anymore, really exciting things can start to happen. You can say yes to paid clients.

Now, I like to do this two ways. One, shut down any that are already there, but then energetically shut them down too. I suggest this in my book, Chillpreneur, on page 180, to symbolically say out loud to the universe, "I am no longer available physically and energetically for bartering arrangements. I declare myself open for business." I'm going to say that again. "I am no longer available physically and energetically for bartering arrangements. I declare myself open for business." Then you have to say no. You have to say no to any future ones, because you will receive a request as a test from the universe and it is a symbolic rite of passage to say no.

I have a script on page 181 of my book, Chillpreneur. It's so simple. "Hey, it's great to hear from you and I really appreciate your offer. I actually have a no bartering policy because I'm focused on growing my business with paying clients, but I'll be sure to check out your services." Now you might want to tweak that, that's totally fine. Clients won't suddenly just rain in because you've passed this test, but you will feel an energetic shift around it. Because if you value what you do and you value your time, you will attract people who will value your time as well. Making a no bartering policy actually sets really good energetic boundaries with other clients, okay? Because there's no wiggle room. They pay you, this is your price, and it sends the right message to the universe that you are open for business and you are not open for free stuff.

Okay, so next we're going to be talking about discounts. What do you say when someone asks you for a discount? It's really, really juicy, and I will see you after the break.

There everyone. My name is Kylie Roth and I'm a creative entrepreneur based in Brisbane, teaching you how to use and be tech-confident in your business with all the tech tools necessary.

I joined Money Bootcamp in 2019 because I was just stuck on making a living from my business and had been stuck for a few years. I discovered how many money blocks I was dealing with and it took a while for me to work through them, after realizing there are no shortcuts on the process. So I've put in the work and then started to see results. The Money Bootcamp community have always been there with supportive advice and experience. I'm now charging my worst clients, no longer apologetic for it, and now I know I'm worthy of upgrades.

I always recommend Denise and Money Bootcamp and love the fact my 10-year-old son follows my example of tapping, manifestation, and positive affirmations as he too is experiencing the benefits. He is now set up for a good money story during his life. I thank Denise and all the Lucky Bees daily. I am so grateful. I found this group.

Okay so we just talked about bartering and how it's just such an energetic thing and you can just let it go. But what happens when it's not so cut and dried and people ask for discounts? Now this is such a tricky one, right? Because not everyone's going to ask, but also what do you do and what do you say so it's even fair? You can have a zero discounting policy as much as the bartering policy, but I find for so many people, it depends.

Let's talk about, first of all, the friends and family discount that might get brought up. You might have your brother, your cousin, your best friend, who says, "Hey, I'd love to work with you." It might not even be that they ask for a discount, but it could kind of be implied that you feel bad about asking them to pay full price.

In Australia, we have something, it's like called the mates' rates, mates' rates. What I realized is that I felt bad charging any Australian full price because I was thinking, "But they're my mate." Where do you draw the line? Is your mate someone that you met at a conference one time? Is your mate someone who, I don't know, you've had dinner with at your house? Where do you define the line of mates' rates? This is why it is so tricky and it's almost not worth doing at all because it could just, your definition of mate could just grow and grow. Like it did for me, it started to become almost the whole continent of Australia, 25 million people. Then I was like, "Oh, New Zealand, Kiwi people, are they my mates? What about English people? I married an English guy, my great grandmother was English." So my definition of mates just got bigger and bigger.

Of course it's a natural thing to want to help your friends and family. Of course there is. But if it is taking you away from actual payable clients, well then that can be a problem as well. So you can just say no. You can just say no. Literally just go, "Oh, I'm sorry I'm booked out for the next six months with paid client work. I'm not going to be able to help you." Or, "I'd love to help. I just don't have the capacity right now." I mean, because it could feel a bit icky to say, "I don't have a friends and family policy," like, "I just don't work with them," but if you say like you're really busy with client work, that can be such a great way to just go. "Eh." Because the other thing about friends and family rate, you don't mind if it's someone who appreciates you, but oftentimes it's someone who's just like, "Oh, you can just whip up a quick one of those, what's it going to cost you, like, nothing." So oftentimes, it actually doesn't work.

Now, when you think about it, from your perspective, would you ask your mate for a discount? Would you expect it? Or would you be happy to pay full price? It's something to think about because I am totally fine to pay full rate. I've had friends who've joined my Money Bootcamp at full price. They didn't even ask, they just joined. It's totally up to you. There's really no right or wrong when it comes to mates' rates.

But what about just a random person who just contacts you? Some people just ask for a discount just on anything. It's just their default behavior, their default habit, just to say, "There's no harm in asking, I may as well." What do you do or say there? Now, it's totally okay to discount if you want to, it's totally okay to never, ever discount. But I just want to challenge you in thinking about it in a slightly different way. One, before you just automatically discount, there could be other ways to incentivize people to work with you or help them feel like they're getting a great deal or a great bargain or that they just feel special to do that. Okay? So you don't have to discount at all. In some businesses, it trains people to wait for a discount or a special offer or a special deal, and it can sometimes just give that message that you don't value yourself at full price.

Okay, here's a mindset lesson around this. I used to do with Money Bootcamp, I used to have an early bird rate, an early bird price when I did the live rounds. I remember changing my mindset about it because one round, I think it was like 95% of people bought it the early bird and only 5% people bought at full price. I remember having to really check in with myself and go, "Oh, I don't believe this is worth full price." I really had to check into that and go, "I don't believe it." So I started a new mantra. "It's worth it at full price." "It's worth it at full price." Then next time we did it, the split was about 70-30, which was interesting. Then I noticed that my mindset around offering payment plans has shifted as well. I know I need to do that again of going, "You know what, it's worth it at full price upfront," because more and more people were opting for the payment plan, which is, there's no problem around that. But I do think it often starts with the mindset that if you have doubts and little niggles around it, then you will often attract people who will do the same thing.

So the first tip really is to don't assume that people don't want to buy it at full price. Don't assume that they have to be offered a discount for them to work with you. Really, you don't have to. Some people are just ready and willing and just, not everyone's going to ask, so just keep on showing up and just telling people what you do. Don't even make it a thing to offer a discount.

The second thing that I ... actually, I did this during COVID because I could see that people were a bit more worried about making upfront payments of things so I offered a longer term payment plan. Rather than do a discount on my course, I just offered a longer term payment plan. Normally we do payments of three or four months and we offered a 10 and 12-month payment plan. Yeah, just kind of that year of 2020 where people were feeling a bit icky. You can totally do that. It does take a little bit more work. If it's something that you're offering upfront, like a website, don't deliver the website until the payments are done. If you know you've got a big event coming up or something that's coming up in the future, you could offer a longer term payment plan way before. It's totally fine. People will default, it's not always going to run perfectly, but that could be an incentive for people rather than offering a discount.

Another thing you can do is offer packages. My hairdresser has a blow dry package where I can get 10 blow dries and they're about 50% off. You think it's still a discount, but I'm showing up and each time I come, I'll buy some extra shampoo, I'll buy a brush or whatever. Also it gives me loyalty to my sell on, so I get my color done there as well, which is obviously a much higher price. Think about what you could package up. Maybe it's, you can package up some of your courses. You can package in some bonuses or some DIY stuff. You wouldn't necessarily do this with your highest offering. Again, you could add things in, you could supersize them. Instead of offering a discount, you could say, "Look, we don't have any discounts at the moment, but actually, I can give you a special bonus," and you can bonus in something else. I did this recently for one of my retreats. I bonus in one of my courses for them. Rather than offering a discount, I offered something cool on top. Like they do at McDonald's, it's like, "Would you like fries with that?" "Would you like, dessert?" It could be something like that.

Another option is that you could offer a light version of what you do or a DIY version of what you do. Someone might come to you for a website. You know I always use the website example because it's something that all of us understand, but say you have a website package and someone goes, "Well, look, it's too expensive." You can go, "Great. Well, I actually have a light version of it," and it could either be a DIY version or it could be just, "Hey, cool. Well, I don't do the 10 pages, but I have a three-page version." Sometimes you might not even advertise the light version. That one could be just in your back pocket. Sometimes too many options for people confuses them but you could just keep that in your back pocket for those people that say no, otherwise known as a down sell. Okay? That could be a really good way rather than someone going, you know when they say, "Oh, can I have a discount because I don't have the budget," and you feel a little bit bad? Well, have something there to offer them.

Okay, so another thing that I've seen really well instead of discounting is adding a charitable thing into it. Someone say, "Hey, could I have a discount?" You say, "Actually we don't offer discounts right now, but for every website I sell in March, 10% goes to one of the three charities of your choice." Again, it's kind of technically, it's just like a bonus, but it's building philanthropy in, and it makes people feel good and it makes people feel like they want to work with you.

Then lastly really is just to say no. When people go, "Hey, do you have any discounts? Do you have any scholarships coming up? Is there a better price?" You're just like, "No." I mean, I see this in Money Bootcamp all the time. People just go, they write back and they go, "No." Like, there isn't that option, but thanks for asking. That's it. You just go, "Cool." End of story. You don't have to justify it or anything.

All right, so I'm guessing this is probably bringing up some stuff for you and if it is, that's totally fine. What you should do next is read my book, Get Rich, Lucky Bitch. Read, Chillpreneur. Both of those books have excellent ways to overcome some of the money blocks stuff that comes up to help you stop feeling like a B word, a bitch, when you say no. Chillpreneur has a ton of scripts in there as well about how to say no to different scenarios, like if someone wants to pick your brain or if people default. There's a ton of extra stuff in there.

If you've read both books and you know you just need to work on the inner worth, then come and join us in Money Bootcamp, where we have so much fun together. We love talking about awkward things in there and how to do it in just a really easy, beautiful way. All the details about that are on my website, denisedt.com/bootcamp. This might be the perfect time for you to join.

All right, my lovelies, let's take a quick break and I'll be back with you in a sec.

Hey, gorgeous. [inaudible] Romania, former HR manager, now voiceover artists and stay-at-home mom. I do HR courses on Udemy and I dream about affording the Bootcamp. I constantly have ahas and struggled with my blocks. [inaudible]? Got it. The need to work until I dropped to deserve anything? Got it. My house chores should come first and then I deserve time for my business? Got it. My greatest aha was in Chillpreneur. Denise said her clients felt like failures if they didn't the course, which was too large. Huge aha. My first course is seven hours long. Now I cut them in smaller bits of 30 minutes and record a congratulations message at the end so the clients feel great. Thanks a lot, Denise.

Hi, I'm a relationship coach for women, and I live in Brisbane. I found Denise on YouTube, and watching her videos helped me to change my perspective about rich people, about abundance, about money. Her mantra, It is my time, and I am ready for the next step," helped so much. My life has changed out of only with the mantra, so I cannot wait to read the books and as well, looking forward to participating in the Money Bootcamp because that, I'm going to give it to myself as my birthday gift. Thank you so much, Denise. I really appreciate all of what you are doing. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Hey, gorgeous. Welcome back, and here is my final thought for today. This is a really great one to act as a pattern interrupter as all my final thoughts are, but just like, "Why not me?" "Why not me?" Try this one over the next week or so, because sometimes we have really buried thoughts about why we're not allowed to have stuff. It might uncover some thoughts for you. It could be like, "Why aren't I allowed to be rich?" You might uncover some really interesting excuses. Like, "Why am I not allowed to be an author? Why not me?" We live in a time now where there are hardly any gatekeepers. Nobody has to choose you anymore to be published. You can self-publish. Nobody has to choose you to be on TV. You can start your own YouTube channel today. Nobody has to choose you to be on a podcast. You can literally start your own, like I am. "Why not me?" It's a really fun question to ask yourself.

All of those opportunities that you think might be for somebody else or you see them come up and you feel jealous, just try it. Just try it over the next couple of days. Why not me? Hmm, could bring up some interesting things. Why not us? It is our time. Why aren't we allowed to do things?

It actually just reminds me when I was a kid, my uncle used to take boys out on the boat and I'd say to him, "Hey, why can't I go?" And he'd go, "Because you're a girl," and there was no other good reason for that. You might've been told things like that in your life. You can't because you're a girl. You can't because you're a woman. You can't because of this, this, this, and this. That sucks. It sucks.

Then they might be the spoken ones and then there might be the unspoken ones. You're too young. You're too old. You're not ready. You don't look right. You don't fit in. All of that is just BS now. There really are no rules about who is allowed to have and have not. I mean, of course there still is this silly systemic racism, there still is the patriarchy, but we can find those little pockets where we can choose ourselves. So yeah, that's my final thought for today is, why not you, why not me, why not us?

All right. I will see you on the next episode. Go forth, chill, and prosper. Peace out from me. Have a great week. Bye.

About the Show

Chill & Prosper is your weekly dose of money mindset, marketing and humour from best-selling author and entrepreneur Denise Duffield-Thomas.

Denise's philosophy is that there is ALWAYS an easier way to make money and that's what she's here to help you do. Each week, you'll get actionable advice to help you make more money, with less work. There's no need to hustle - let Denise show you how to embrace the Chillpreneur way.

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