Boss Lady

How to win in the transactional business world


Women need to accept that the business world is different to the social world. It’s transactional… and by this we don’t mean that money always changes hands. It’s quid pro quo.

You provide a product or service for something in return. Yes, this could be financial, but it can just as often — or even more often — be ‘contra’. Yes, it is okay not to receive cash for your time and effort, but it is NOT okay to receive nothing. That’s called volunteer or pro bono work, in which you are giving back to a community or field (often because you have achieved a measure of success in it).

Unfortunately, many women feel guilty asking for something in return for their time. When it comes to products, they often feel guilty for putting a mark-up on the product. The good old “yeah but it only cost me $4 to make so I should charge $6?” Err, no … you should charge the time it took to make it, market it, process it, deliver it PLUS a profit margin. So that $4 product is now a $12 product. Even then, if it is priced too cheaply no-one will value it and hence they won’t want it.

In order to be successful at transactions and making a profit, you need to value what you have to offer first. This often means valuing yourself.

Women have a tendency to discount their time to such a degree that they lose money instead of making it. They feel the need to ‘give’ more than the need to ‘get’.

Again, this is business, not a social environment. It is transactional and you need to make sure you are being remunerated for what you provide.

If you find yourself in a position where the other party is not willing — or able — to financially pay you, then consider the following aspects before agreeing:

  • Are they able to promote your brand to a market that would be in a position to pay for your products/services?
    • For example, if their market is not your ultimate target market then it is possibly not a viable decision.
  • How much time/overheads would it cost you to provide this product and service?
    • For example, if you speak at an event then you need to consider travel time, preparation time, parking and the time you are at the event. This can turn a two-hour speaking opportunity into a six-hour plus expenses experience.
  • Do you want to build a solid relationship with this person long term? There is a case for transacting with them if you see it as an investment, and know you can utilize their support in return sometime in the near future?
  • How have they supported other people or brands that have provided free products or services? Call around and ask if those people found it value for money.
  • Can you leverage off their brand? If you are starting out and looking to develop a reputation and strong brand alliances, doing something for free or providing a product to a reputable business with a recognizable brand is a very powerful marketing tool.


Don’t give expecting a payment

There is a flip side to this transaction and that is the situation where women give their product/service or time to someone or a business (willingly) and expect there is an unspoken agreement that the other party to give them something in return. Be clear in outlining the expectations on both sides.

Don’t assume because you want to help or you see an opportunity to help, that the person or company receiving the help have any intention to remunerate you for this.

Before offering something to someone else, find out whether it is of value for your future business and brand to do so. Then, contact them and be very upfront about what you would like in return. DO NOT expect the other person to help you with this. You need to be in control of your business transactions not them.

This extends to advice in a more casual setting. A classic example is in Facebook groups. If you share your advice openly or privately with someone and they take it, don’t expect them to give you anything in return unless you previously agreed to this beforehand.


About Amanda Rose

Founder and CEO of The Business Woman Media. Amanda Rose is also the only 'strategic connector', a brand strategist, keynote speaker and host of Amanda Rose TV. Connect with Amanda Rose on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or visit

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