Barter booksI remember that I used to think that bartering is arguably a better way to do business than the standard money-for-stuff transaction.

Call me ‘old-fashioned’ entrepreneur :)

However, bartering seems on small business owners’ minds lately.

An article on BusinessWeek highlight the rising popularity of barter exchanges, stating that in today’s credit woes, bartering service or products among small businesses is hot.

How bartering will solve your budgeting problems

One bartering I have done for my small business is advertising spot for services in my premise. The one I did was actually similar to sponsorship or endorsement programs, but with those that is not involving any amount of money.

That way, each party will benefit from money-less business transaction, conserving the ever-important cash. You can budget the available cash for other productive activities, or keep it for your business’ rainy days.

What’s more, doing that actually eliminates your need for funding through bank loans, cutting you from today’s difficult credit application approvals and high interest rates.

How to do barter exchanges

There are many venues that you can take to barter with other small business owners.

Barter exchanges groups

Remember the once-hot story of a darn lucky man who traded his red paper clip for a house?

You can actually do that, on lesser extent and more professionally – You can join or form a group that promotes bartering among group members. The barter exchanges organisation take an amount of membership fees and commissions – so do your math before joining, so that bartering doesn’t lose you money.

Better yet, you can join the barter exchange association – NATE (National Association of Trade Exchanges).*

How big is bartering today? According to NATE, about 400 barter exchanges in the US and Canada generate transactions worth $4 billion a year – that’s huge!

Sponsorship programs

Sponsorship, endorsement, or branding programs are not really considered barter exchanges, but in essence, as long as they don’t cost you money, you can view them as bartering.

Basically, the idea is to offer an ad space on your small business premise or activities, in exchange for free services or products. What’s more, the one you choose to partner with can actually enhance your brand names.

For example, suppose you make a deal with Lenovo to ‘brand’ your office with their laptops in exchange for advertising spaces, endorsement and/or branding of Lenovo – you are not only saving thousands of dollar in office equipment, but also gaining an improvement in your brand name value and image by partnering with Lenovo, one of the most prestigious brand name in IT.

Bartering can be done in both off line and online business

Bartering is not only for the conventional, off line, business – in the online world, bartering is, in my opinion, more prominent.

One of the examples is link exchange, that comes in many forms – I place your website URL in my website and you do so, too; In social marketing – I fave you on Stumble Upon and (hopefully) you do so, too in return; and many other applications.

Barter now – save your hard-earned cash

I love and enjoy bartering.

In my opinion, bartering is one of the age-old solution that only do good for you – involving less cash in transaction, even you can go money-less all the way.

The only challenge is on how to value a win-win barter – but that’s one of our everyday issues in running a business, isn’t it?

Happy bartering!

Ivan Widjaya
Barter exchanges
Image by phototram.

* Note: Clarification – you can join NATE if you are to form barter exchanges. If you want to be a barter participating member, you can join barter exchanges, such as IMS – thanks for the clarification, barterbuddy!