Tuesday, October 25, 2011

How to approach a Barter Deal in 5 Easy Steps

Welcome back! Things have been busy the last couple of weeks. But rest assured we haven't forgotten about our readers. 

I am excited to include the key points from another article about bartering, which I have posted on my small business site.  

So, if you have read our previous article and you think that bartering may be able to help your business grow. Take a look at the following points on how to approach a Barter deal which I have taken from my article on my small business site.  

Step 1: Make a list of what you have to barter with

Step 2: Make a list of the goods or services your business needs to grow

Step 3: Make a list of  people in your trade network with whom you may be able to trade

Step 4: Broadcast your barter deal to your online or offline networks

Step 5: Be patient and consistent

Read the complete article here, How to Approach a Barter Deal in 5 Easy Steps.  

I am also happy to announce that I have made available a free gift for new subscribers of vedaconsulting.org, my small business site.  Visit the link to for details

Happy reading!  

If you are using bartering in your small business, then I would like to hear how it is working for you. Please share your thoughts in the comment field below.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

How Bartering Could Help Your Business in a Downturn

I recently read about a pub in England. A pub that's very different from what I'm used to. But what's different about this pub? What's different about them is that they accept payment in pheasant, chard, and fish. 

Image: maya picture / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

That's right, you shoot it, hook it, or grow it, then bring it to the The Pigs, and if its good, you get your cold beer for free (or at least for less than usual). The owners of The Pigs, Edgefield, trade fresh game, vegetables, fish or meat in a classic barter system.

Apparently the sign on the wall of The Pigs states: 
"If you grow, breed, shoot or steal anything that may look at home on our menu, then bring it in and let's do a deal!" 
Reading about this system makes me happy. It makes me happy because it is a cool example of a small business owner 'thinking outside the box'. It's an example of a local business being relevant to their community. It helps both the client and the business to improve cash flow. At this pub, if your tomatoes are good enough, you don't pay for the beer. So the customer saves. The pub's management wins by getting streams of fresh produce delivered to them. 

Direct expenses are probably reduced for food supplies. I'll also venture a guess that the people that deliver the food to the pub are proud of it. This system allows for community; personally, it's much nicer to eat food, Judy from next door has grown, than the I'm-not-sure-what-they've-done-with-this-food commercial variants. I know that such a system won't work everywhere, but The Pigs is a good example of what is possible through bartering.     

Wikipedia tells us that bartering is a direct exchange of goods or services, without the use of a medium of exchange. That means money is not changing hands, which may be a good thing, especially during times when money is scarce (and scary).

It appears that bartering is on the increase; logical, considering the plight of the world's financial system at the moment. Wikipedia notes that bartering replaces money during times when the currencies become unstable; so when money sucks we return to basic trade.  

Bartering seems to be a more sustainable economic system. Maybe because you cannot inflate or increase your tomatoes with some kind of western banking voodoo (printing money), like our, now infamous, western banking system was able to do.   

In a bartering economy, you can only exchange something of value with something else of value.  

An example of the bartering phenomena is currently active in Greece. The financial crisis, in Greece, has led to the emergence of an alternative barter economy, running alongside the normal economy. People are exchanging goods, services and time, without the exchange of cash see I'm Broke. Let's barter. Greece's alternative economy (a 2.47 min video on youtube). 

So how could bartering help those of us in small businesses? Proponents of bartering tells us that it helps businesses to utilize excess capacity; something many small businesses and start ups typically have a lot of. 

It also helps you to control your cash flow by reducing direct expenditure.  Businesses often barter things like excess inventory, free capacity, or dead time, with other businesses, which if done right it helps both parties.      

I think we'll have to be much more creative and needs sensitive in a barter economy. "I have X, I need Y, how can I make the exchange happen?, who do I know with Y, uhmmm maybe Joe from ABC Corp ... but does  he need X?, Maybe Steven I met on Linked In? (etc.)". See where I'm going with this? 

Bartering opens up new possibilities. Instead of trying to trade with money, which we often don't have enough of, we could expand our businesses by trading things we have an excess of, time inventory, or capacity. This seems like a good way for SMME's to collaborate.  

Bartering may just take us from "I cannot do that because I don't have enough money" to "I wonder if someone will trade me this stuff I don't really need, for the things I actually do need to make my business grow". Seems to expand our possibilities, doesn't it?   

But does bartering work? I recently posted a question on Linked In to the Johannesburg Business Club Group asking whether the members of the group used bartering, and if it was beneficial to their businesses (see the discussion here http://www.linkedin.com/groups/I-am-curious-are-any-131389.S.74654001). 

The responses I gathered so far was very positive (thanks to all you guys that responded; I really appreciate it). One member suggested it (bartering) is a quick way to achieve mutual benefit. Another business owner expressed the value of bartering when in a restricted cash flow situation, especially during the start-up phases. An owner from Johannesburg suggested bartering  to be a powerful way to help a new business build a client base. 

So, we find that bartering may be able to help our businesses grow. But there are downsides to bartering. Arguably the most difficult thing about bartering is finding someone to barter with. There may not be an immediate demand for the goods, services, or time you wish to barter with.  

This highlights the importance of networking in a barter economy. The more connected you are the more likely you are to barter successfully. Fortunately this should not be hard considering the volumes of social networks we have online lately. Another possible drawback to consider is that bartering income is also taxable in most countries, but that's a story for another discussion.      

Curious about how to approach a barter deal? Read some suggestions here

Thank you for reading. I would love to hear your stories and views about bartering and business.    

Monday, October 3, 2011

Finding work that needs doing – Promoting the constructive use of technology

Hello everyone – it is good being back! As promised at the conclusion of my previous posting, we will spend some time looking at a couple of macro issues, which have been identified by Sunny Hansen in the conceptualisation of the Integrative Life Planning (ILP) model. There will probably not be too many surprises in terms of the topics here, but I think we will do well by looking at these issues from the ILP approach. The current and couple of postings to follow will be looking at macro needs and their relevance to the context of human development.

As if she was able to see in to the future, Hansen suggested the first macro issue to be promoting the constructive use of technology. Some detractors may say the ILP model was written in the previous century, and will therefore not be relevant in today’s context. Before throwing out the baby with the bathwater, let us briefly look at the ILP approach to the constructive use of technology. When the original work was produced, Hansen made quite a bit of the issue of networking; she described it as one of the most important words of the Information Age and proffered a variety of example contexts. These included computer networks (yes, even then!), team networks, personal and professional networks, and the like.

She also suggested an increased use of technology in the practice of teaching and learning. Again, many examples of the integration of technology into the education arena of today can be found. One only needs to think of SMART board technology, which is finding application in various international contexts.

If we were to further explore networking, various other forms of interaction and collaboration now seem to be taking place – it would be quite possible to compile a long list of examples. Perhaps one of the most interesting and influential phenomena of the current time is the prevalence of social media, yet another form of networking. With examples aplenty, we will be committing an oversight if we were to disregard the importance of social media in its various shapes and forms on lives in 2011. Career development professionals are essentially required to integrate social media into their understanding of their clients. If we think back to the basic assumptions and statements underpinning the ILP model, we should agree that ILP offers an approach to career developmental specialists to harness change.

In addition to the above, Hansen also opined that in future, we will be relying on computers and television to meet most of our service needs! Considering the current state of technology – which is being improved and characterised by new innovations by the minute – we will be hard-pressed to say she was wrong! I do not want to dwell on a discussion of the new wave of integration taking place between television and the internet; we have all seen it – to ignore the integration of these two powerful forms of media will be a superb example of short-sightedness (and stupidity!) by individuals and business corporations alike.

Taking the ILP approach and perspective of the career development professional, we will agree that technological change is (just) another form of change. By factoring the external context – which, is discussed in terms of promoting the constructive use of technology – into any and all career development interventions, career professionals will be able to make a contribution towards the constructive application of technology. As you may have realised, the current posting does not discuss the improper or destructive application of technology. As we are all well aware, there are enumerate examples of technology not being applied for the greater good. Our task, as agents of change, is to promote the proper use of technology through informing the uninformed, and by including this element into our approach to clients.

Next time I will continue the discussion of these macro issues, which have to be considered by everyone taking responsibility for the career and life development of others – and themselves!

Based on the work of Sunny Hansen: Integrative Life Planning: Critical Tasks for Career Development and Changing Life Patterns Also read the work of Neil Postman on the Surrender of Culture to Technology – Technopoly