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Beth Graybill

  /  Articles   /  When You Can’t Afford Consulting

A consultant friend mentioned she was writing a novel in her downtime during Covid. Excited for her, I offered to take a look at it if she “ever needed an extra set of eyes.” She said she would love to share it, but didn’t want to take advantage of me—knowing this is also some of the paid work I do with Creative Development. Especially when she knew that times were tight at both ends—for her and for me—in the consulting world.

Times are tight and things are hard right now. We’re all feeling it in different ways.

We are tired, overextended, out of creative ideas, can’t get the help we need, running low on energy and margin. And that’s just at work. Home is another story.

Most of us are doing the best we can to make the most of these strange times. But the help we often need and the support we rely on is out of reach right now because we simply can’t afford it. Coaching and Consulting sound lovely, but there’s no margin to spend that kind of money right now.

I get it. I’ve had to cut out the business “extras” and say no to a few important opportunities and experiences because of limited funds in this season, too. I’ve also had to say “yes” to a few projects I wouldn’t normally take on because we still have to pay the bills. (I call this the “Covid Yes”). But that doesn’t mean we can’t get the help we need.

Eventually, I convinced my friend to share her novel with me. And you know what did the trick?

I asked her if she’d be willing to swap services—I’d walk her through the Creative Development process I use with new authors if she would walk me through the Organizational Coaching & Consulting process she uses. It was a win-win for both of us. And then I started to think about other areas where I could swap services with colleagues, friends, and consultants in my world, and it got my creative juices flowing.

So, what do you do when you can’t afford the consulting help you need? Here’s my encouragement to you:

  • CONSIDER A SERVICE SWAP. If you need coaching & consulting but you can’t afford, think about what you want and what you could give in return. Is there a service or strength you could offer to make it a fair trade for the help you need?

  • THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX. This service swap doesn’t have to be professional-service-to-professional-service. It could be something else like: help with budgeting and accounting, lawn care, mentoring or tutoring their students, help with a creative project, or fixing up the house.

  • DETERMINE THE MATCH VALUE. How much do you usually charge for the service you are providing, and what is a fair swap in service value? Find the middle ground. This is meant to be a win-win situation, so if you can’t agree on match value or one service outweighs the other, you don’t have to force it to happen. Consider swapping with someone else.

Give it a try, and let us know how it goes! We love learning from you, too. Email: to share your successful (and even not-so-successful) service swap ideas.