Photo by Steven deChristopher Jackson (Photopin - Flickr)

I read this news story recently and it reminded me of a business book I’ve been meaning to write for the past four years.

In the story, a City worker Adam Mughal describes how he’s been inundated with offers after advertising a large double room for rent in his five bedroom London house for just £1 a month.

There is of course a catch. Whilst the lucky person gets to live virtually rent free in a very desirable part of London, what Mr Mughal wants in exchange is a specialised skill-set – someone with “a high level of web or mobile development skills” to help him develop a web application.

Trading: an age-old practice


Although this scenario of trading accommodation in exchange for skills is still a new phenomenon in the UK, the general practice of trading what you have for what you need is far from new – it’s been going on for hundreds of years, even thousands!

Trade-offs (also known as bartering) is in fact how human beings used to interact with each other financially before money came into the picture.

It’s always been possible to get what you need by trading what you have and even though the practice is on the rise globally, so many people still limit themselves to cash transactions, especially in the business startup world.

When I first started my entrepreneurial journey many moons ago with a zero spending budget to work with, I knew the only way to advance my business and start generating cashflow was to trade what I had for what I needed. Over the years I’ve been able to trade my writing and editing skills for website design, IT support, photography, flyers, business advice and so much more!

Employment: a mutually beneficial trade-off


The trade transaction, however, isn’t just limited to business – the same thing happens in employment. A job is essentially a trade-off between your time and skills for a salary.

The crucial note here is time and skills – in the majority of jobs, employers are not looking for someone to just fill the time; they are looking for someone to bring in a set of skills that will contribute to the growth of their business – in exchange for a monthly paycheck.

So if you want to make some progress in either business or employment, the key is to get some skills under your belt or to refine the skills you already have. The more skills you have, the better your trading power and the better your chances of getting what you need from what you already have.