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Bartering could be a very big step in the right direction.
Bartering comes naturally; You give me some of those for some of these and we'll call it even. Although you can't survive running your business totally on barter, there are certain unique situations that prove ideal for swapping goods and services. No matter who you are or what business you're in or planning to start, you wouldn't be bartering unless you felt that you had something everyone wants. And there are bartering companies that have built the concept into a mainstream business model.
Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant. Robert Louis Stevenson
If you’re an electrician who’s in need of legal services, I’m sure you can locate a very good attorney who’d be willing to talk barter. A mechanic who needs plumbing done in his home could propose a barter arrangement with a plumber whose truck needs serious servicing. Both parties would save an outlay of cash while establishing a personal connection that can lend itself to all sorts of networking possibilities. When the timing is just right, it’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.
You don't have to go it on your own.
If you don’t want to try and find your own people to barter with, you might consider researching a barter organization. Consider what each has to offer. If you’re a small to medium size business, you might want to stick close to home, opting to join one that has a local or regional membership. You’ll also want to learn how many members there are and whether they’re representative of the types of products and services you have or need. Check out the size of the average transaction so you have an idea whether or not you might be getting in over your head in terms of volume and frequency and don’t fail to recognize that these dealings are taxable on a dollar for dollar basis and also come with a membership fee, transaction charges and other costs. Do a Google search in locating a barter group that fits your needs or ask a business associate to recommend one to you.
If you want to go it solo, consider what a resourceful fellow from Canada named Kyle MacDonald did when bartering a
paper clip for a house. I’m not kidding. It’s a unique story you might find rather interesting.
Finally, think about what you have to offer and what you really need, and remember that bartering has to start somewhere. For instance, if you’re just getting your business off the ground maybe you can find a way to compensate a teenager who’s willing to pass out your flyers or hang notices in public places, possibly in exchange for something you offer or maybe can offer his parents as a gift. Stay-at-home friends and family can do telephone soliciting, envelope stuffing, billing, and bookkeeping in exchange for your product or service. Maybe you can swap stacks of business cards or flyers with others in your situation who would be willing to give them out while they’re in touch with their own clients. You might be allowed to put a poster or pile of flyers in an establishment in exchange for what you offer. The possibilities are as endless as the scope of your imagination. Also, remind yourself to consult with your tax preparer on how to keep records on these transactions and learn the tax consequences of bartering. No matter what, bartering can be a very valuable tool in gaining things you might not be able to otherwise afford while creating a word of mouth connection for future transactions. Remember that every person you come in contact with is a person capable of spreading the word to many others.
But how does a professional barter company differ?
Before completing this article, I went back to review the information provided on the website of one of my current Barter companies, National Commerce Exchange of Long Island, and found them to proclaim all that is consistent with what I have been experiencing through these many years. Here is generally what you should expect a professional barter company to bring to the table. The first is providing you with your own "trade broker," who looks over the membership roster for businesses that regularly purchase products or services you offer and tries to put you both in touch. That person essentially functions as your "sales force" and is provided to you through your membership. So if you need something to buy, need to sell, or just need information about, this is your go-to person.
You receive daily business boosts through scheduled email blasts, making it possible to advertising your product or service to the entire member community. Exclusive Trade Shows are organized for members only businesses providing you the opportunity to display your products or services to all attendees. Some barter companies host informal membership gatherings from time to time, giving members the opportunity to network in an informal, relaxed atmosphere. They'll even distribute your printed materials through proprietary direct mail programs they offer and provide exposure on a national or regional basis for locals who want to expand their reach.
I can't even begin to touch on all the many overt and subtle benefits barter companies provide to their membership. You have to experience it on a daily basis to understand how the time saving and money saving benefits they provide are a blessing to every business, especially one-man shows like myself.
Do I myself walk the walk?
Without a doubt. In fact, I used to be a member of several barter organizations. Presently I'm a member of just two. However, I'm always open to joining others. Right now, I have both of those memberships in New York while currently being headquartered in California. Unique Barter companies from all over the country often connect with one another through an exchange that allows them to accept the currency from each other for an equal expansion of both their purchasing powers. This is terrific for vacation planning and locating hard-to-find goods you otherwise would not find locally. Although you might not offer everything you do on barter, what you do offer connects you with others that might provide rewarding, non-barter, cash business opportunities at another time. Check it out; I think you'll discover it to be as enriching as I have. Barry