More than Just Money: Barter
By definition, barter is the when parties swap services or
resources. But in business terms, it's an exchange that ends
usually with everyone a winner. All parties involved in
bartering hold onto their cold hard cash and don't lose a cent.
There's no worries about getting ripped off as a buyer or
seller, so it's an exchange that's high on trust, low on
tension. And finally, the government doesn't get its hands on
any of the proceeds. Bartering is such a great system, it's no
wonder it's been around nearly forever.
Historians and archeologists reckon that bartering is a human
business practice for the ages. It goes back as far as written
history, and perhaps even further into mankind's (and
womankind's) history of business practices.
Between humans, the actual business practice of money came long
before money was invented. In written history, as far back as
9,000 BC, shepherds used cattle as a means of exchange--from
sheep to cows, camels to goats. Then when farmers came along
during the course of the next couple thousands of years, grains
and plants became the hot commodity in the world of bartering.
Bartering may have dissipated over the years, but it by no means
went away. That's the amazing thing about bartering. It still
is, to this day, the ideal method of business exchange for some
business folk, including companies with millions in assets. But
it's especially helpful for small businesses looking to get a
leg up on their competition.
Listen to people talking in today's business world, and you'll
hear stories such as the programmer who helped to code an
interactive Web page for a startup graphic-design company, in
exchange for a logo design for his own startup surf-board design
shop. Then there's the story of the new Internet advertising
firm rolling out an ad campaign for a restaurant. Later that
year, the restaurant hosted a "free" party and dinner for that
ad firm's clients.
Examples in today's business world abound for bartering. The
reason is that bartering still has many advantages to it in this
modern business world.
For instance, for companies that are just starting to build up
their assets, bartering is an opportunity to save their
hard-earned cash. Even established companies love the chance to
keep their money in the bank. With bartering, a company can get
what it needs, while providing a service that the other company
And because there is no money passed between pockets, the taxman
does not even need to know about it. That saves you, and your
accountant, the trouble of figuring out one more piece of
business income or expense.
Lastly, deals involving money may whip up the old Scrooge
mentality--a combination of greed and mistrust. With money
deals, you may always be left wondering if you got the short end
of the stick. Not so with bartering. With bartering, you get
exactly what you need. And in return, you give a fair share of
goods or services.
There's no need to be a Scrooge here. Instead, the whole
transaction is one of trust and understanding. Generally
speaking, bartering for goods and services feels more worthwhile
than paying money, whether you're bartering for a dinner party
for your clients, Internet advertising space, or whatever it is
that you and your bartering partner agree to. Perhaps it's
because you can actually feel the value of your own goods and
services. Or it may be just because you don't have to open your