Have you ever thought of trading or bartering as a way to advertise and promote your business? Trading services, inventory or time for something that you need is a great way to get ahead as a small business without investing a lot of money. Most small business owners, like boutique owners, do not have a lot of capital to work with. However, they often have things to donate or services to provide that other businesses need.

Bartering and trading is a lot more common than you may realize. There are sites out there, like, where small business owners post services that they offer in hopes that someone looking for those services can help them out with something that they need. Best of all, using this service is free and businesses from all over the world participate. If you have a boutique, you may be able to offer photos of outfits, accessories, your garment racks, and more in trade for a free banner for your store, radio advertisements, free carpet, or whatever else you need.

Besides investing time instead of money, you can build some solid business relationships with the people that you contact. Even if you don’t strike a deal with the person on the other end, at least they are now aware of what you have to offer and can refer other businesses that they collaborate with to you. Even if you’re competitors in the same industry, search engines place a lot of value in collaborating with your peers. Companies that work together and help each other out online, mentioning each other’s blog posts and following each other on social sites, generally rank higher than companies that keep to themselves.

Start thinking of your time and inventory as leverage that can be used to get things that you need in trade. Constantly work on trying to get ahead, even if you’re already ahead. Never pay for anything that you haven’t already tried to get for free or in trade. If you’re thinking that you don’t have time or inventory to spare, think again. As a boutique owner, you probably have a sense of style and imagination that other business owners may lack. You can show off your retail design ideas and organization skills to those who could use it. Perhaps that sign print shop could use some sprucing up to attract more customers. Use your imagination and come up with ways that you can trade your way to success.

About the Author: John Garvey is on the staff of Only Garment Racks, a leading online source of clothing racks including garment racks. Find a high quality clothing rack or garment rack at