Tag Archive for small business

Watercooler Story

Posted on November 23rd, 2009

Man happy with simple life in Utah cave

MOAB, Utah, Nov. 23 (UPI) — A 48-year-old man who has not used money in nine years and resides in a desert cave in Moab, Utah, said he loves his simple existence.

Daniel Suelo said he shops for clothes by going through garbage and he is content with living an existence in which he does not have to worry about a job, mortgage or other concerns that most people have to deal with, The Denver Post reported.

“The understanding that, really, we all possess nothing is the cornerstone of all spiritual endeavors and religions,” Suelo said.

A former Peace Corps volunteer, Suelo said he also will not barter for food or rent because he considers bartering another form of currency.

Suelo took up his lifestyle nine years ago despite having a master’s degree in accounting and a degree in anthropology. He says he will never embrace a conventional lifestyle again.

“I have no idea what the future holds, and I don’t worry about it. But the longer I do this, it seems absurd to go back,” he told the Post. “It would be like going back to slavery.”

Forget Money, With Your Skill Set

Posted in the Guardian, 13th November 2009

I’ve got a website. It was built from a few scraps of paper, a pile of photos and some stickyback plastic, for nothing, by an IT specialist who is an aspiring comedy writer. In exchange, all I have to do is critique his latest sitcom, and the transaction is complete.

The deal makes sense. I’m an occasional sitcom writer and script editor; he designs websites. We both get what we want and no money changes hands. I thought this was merely swapping favours with a mate but I am, apparently, in the vanguard of a revolutionary movement that could redefine our approach to work.

As a creative response to dealing with employment through and beyond this recession, work-swap is in its infancy. Bartering has been around for centuries, but the internet has brought this exchange into the world of work. The websites offering this are massively global yet charmingly local. Gumtree, for instance, runs classified ads from the UK to Ukraine, Cape Town to Krakow, but with a couple of clicks you can practically zoom in on your neighbour.

It’s astonishing what people reckon they’ll be able to find on the net: in one short browse I found “fencing lessons offered in exchange for learning piano”, “your carpentry for my counselling sessions” and “philosophy for jazz tap dancing”.

I decided to try it. I thought it might help if I made my request slightly less specific, so posted an ad that was very easy and very free:

Looking for a new job? To impress with a presentation? Or nervous before making that best man’s speech? I’ve been a comedy writer-performer for 25+ years, I can’t make you funny but can help you present yourself to an audience, potential employer or roomful of tanked-up wedding guests. You – unlike me – are practical, good at fixing things, basic plumbing and handiwork. Interested? E-mail me.

As a freelancer I try to limit the amount of unpaid work I do. But I’ve been struggling for years to find a good plumber and, however many hours it’ll take me to write that best man’s speech, if I find one it’ll have been worth my while.

Within two days, nine people had viewed my ad. Promising, I thought. After five days, 14 had viewed it, but no one replied. Maybe I hadn’t been specific enough. Maybe all the people I need are gainfully employed, fixing boilers and mending fences for cash, brimming with confidence ahead of that U-bend PowerPoint presentation.

After a week, the website offered to keep my ad at the top of the list for another three days if I paid £4.99, which rather defeated the object. After two weeks, my advert found its way into that huge black internet void where start-up blogs and fencing wannabe-pianists disappear for ever.

Anna Davis in Leeds was more successful. Seeking “Spanish lessons in exchange for showing you round the Yorkshire Dales”, she had six replies. “I learned some basic Spanish and took my teacher for a drive through the Dales.” Her ad was a total success. “I’d use them again,” she says.

When it comes to language swaps, the internet is delivering. There are several websites devoted specifically to this, notably, developed by language-learning software provider RosettaStone, and Swedish site

So, if you want to learn French, you simply seek a French speaker who wants to learn English. SharedTalk has more than 400,000 members from 154 countries, speaking 30 languages: whatever your needs there’s almost certainly someone who’ll match.

Travel agent Richard Townshend is learning Spanish by this method. “It’s definitely improved my work prospects,” he says. “I recently attended a world convention of travel agents and was able to chat to the Mexicans there, and made loads of contacts.”

Work-swap also taps into our better nature. We perceive philanthropists only as multimillionaires who bestow their loose change on youth clubs for Channel 4. But there’s something empowering about giving what you normally do for money, for free, not to mention getting something back.

“I’m teaching English to people from all backgrounds,” says Townshend. “There’s a 16-year-old schoolboy in Colombia learning English from me, and a guy from Venezuela I’m helping with vocabulary.”

Peter Gestrup, the founder of Lingofriends, feels strongly about this aspect of his work.

“Globalisation brought the need to learn and respect cultural diversity, and the key for making that process smoother – knowledge of a foreign language – is essential.”

Back in the real world, Work Wise UK, “a not-for-profit organisation promoting smarter working practices”, is creating StaffShare, a scheme designed to save thousands of jobs. Instead of making staff redundant, big companies such as BT and Microsoft UK keep their underemployed workers by offering their services to the third sector. So if and when the upturn happens, those they won’t have to repeat the whole recruitment process.

StaffShare is backed by the government, the TUC and the CBI. I tried to contact Theresa May, the shadow secretary for work and pensions, to see if the Conservatives supported it or if they had any innovative plans for dealing with unemployment, but received no response from her office. Perhaps she was too busy offering shoe-wearing tips in exchange for a free moat.

Despite her reticence, and my own speechwriter-plumber failings, Gestrup believes we’re at the start of something potentially huge. “There are endless opportunities for web services offering similar systems with different niches.”

To prove his point, he put me in touch with New York financier Brooke Allen, who has set up (NSoW), a website to connect people seeking or offering specific work skills.

“I meet with a group of professionals every month and everyone was talking about the terrible economy,” Allen says. “Other than talking, they were doing nothing. Many had been out of work for months and years. So I said to them, ‘You may have an excuse for not having a job, but you have no excuse for not having work’.

“It became clear everyone had something they wanted to do but because nobody was paying them to do it, they didn’t. But nobody had an excuse for not doing it anyway.

“During the last recession the means of production were expensive. Now you just send $300 to Dell, or borrow your kid’s laptop.”

Frank McGrath found Allen while looking for places in New York to pitch his investment ideas. “There was someone on NSoW offering to listen and give feedback,” McGrath recalls. “Another contact sneaked us into an investment bank to get a conference room and rehearse our pitch. He thought we had a good product and gave us his contact list of investors.”

Gestrup reckons work-swap will succeed because it marries two hugely popular internet areas, social networking and classifieds. His previous job was with dating site, “which is how the idea of matching people for the benefit of learning a language instead of finding love was born”.

The dating analogy is a good one. Many Gumtree ads have that tone: “Me – smart, sophisticated, French-speaking. You – Latvian, looking for … French lessons.” But it’s too random at the moment. Imagine a website the size of, with 20 million members worldwide. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t happen, and why, not too far in the future, that fencing teacher couldn’t be bashing the piano keys like a pro.

How to Survive in the Small Business Life

By Jim Blasingame, Posted November 2, 2009

In his landmark 1776 book “Wealth of Nations,” Adam Smith called money one of the three great inventions, including the written word and mathematics. Money has helped businesses grow more efficiently, markets expand more dynamically and nations trade more effectively.

But there is something still in use in the marketplace today that humans used for millennia before money: barter. Indeed, barter birthed the marketplace.

In simple terms, barter is the direct and mutual exchange of goods and/or services between two parties. The Latin term, quid pro quo, “something for something,” is the original definition of barter. Think of the frontier doctor who took a chicken and a sack of potatoes for delivering a baby.

Over the past hundred years or so, a combination of the ubiquity of money and the growth of financial tools and resources has relegated barter to the marketplace minor leagues. Nevertheless, barter is still being conducted, primarily between businesses that know each other and have a mutual need for what the other offers. For example, a printer barters a brochure job for food from a local restaurant. Or a lawyer accepts personal and/or real assets from a client in barter for legal representation.

Small business should look for barter opportunities. For example, with too much inventory and too little cash, barter can be part of a survival strategy in a bad economy. Slow-turning goods become the equivalent of cash to pay for something that in a better economy would have been covered by the cash flow and profits from customer sales. Plus, there are tax advantages with barter, but also tax reporting requirements. So consult a tax professional before bartering.

As handy as barter can be, it does have three inherent challenges that money was invented to address: 1) Party familiarity, 2) Timing, and 3) Relative value. But a few entrepreneurs have created something to overcome these limitations in much the same way that money does, while keeping the advantages of barter. They’re called barter networks or exchanges.

A barter network becomes the nexus between parties by offering services that address the challenges mentioned above, including 1) barter credits that can be used any time in exchange for 2) a variety of goods and services from a catalog the network has aggregated from and for its members.

Before using a barter network, remember you may be exchanging assets today for future redemption. So conduct the due diligence to make sure the barter network has experience and a good track record.

Do You Need to Report a Barter Exchange?

original post by Sandra A. Parks

Bartering is the trading of one product or service for another. Usually there is no exchange of cash. Barter may take place on an informal one-on-one basis between individuals and businesses, or it can take place on a third party basis through a modern barter exchange company.

Bartering is the most ancient form of commerce. While our ancestors may have exchanged eggs for corn, today you can barter computer services for auto repair.

Another example of a one-on-one, non-barter exchange transaction is a plumber doing repair work for a dentist in exchange for dental services. The fair market value of the goods and services exchanged must be reported as income by both parties.

Here are a few things you should know about bartering:

• Barter Exchange A barter exchange functions primarily as the organizer of a marketplace where members buy and sell products and services among themselves. Whether this activity operates out of a physical office or is internet based, a barter exchange is generally required to issue Form 1099-B, Proceeds from Broker and Barter Exchange Transactions, annually to their clients or members and to the IRS.

• Barter Income Barter dollars or trade dollars are identical to real dollars for tax reporting. If you conduct any direct barter – barter for another’s products or services – you will have to report the fair market value of the products or services you received on your tax return.

• Taxes Income from bartering is taxable in the year it is performed. You may be subject to liabilities for income tax, self-employment tax, employment tax, or excise tax. Your barter activities may result in ordinary business income, capital gains or capital losses, or you may have a nondeductible personal loss.

• Reporting The rules for reporting barter transactions may vary depending on which form of bartering takes place. Generally, you report this type of business income on Form 1040, Schedule C Profit or Loss from Business, or other business returns such as Form 1065 for Partnerships, Form 1120 for Corporations, or Form 1120-S for Small Business Corporations.

For more information please see or call 972.569.7938

Discover the Rewards of Small Business Bartering

original post by Darrell Zahorsky,

Whether you are starting or growing a small business bartering can aid in preserving cash to help get your venture launched or expand. Bartering is a must have success tactic for operating your small business.

Bartering can be defined as the exchange of goods or services for other goods or services. It is a transaction where no money changes hands. Bartering is estimated to exchange 8.25 billion a year in trade for 2004, according to the International Reciprocal Trade Association.

Advantages of Small Business Bartering

Free Excess Inventory or Capacity. If your business has built up idle capacity or has a large inventory, then bartering offers a means to move goods and improve your operations. Bartering has been a huge boost to companies during recessions to help move excess inventory and goods. If you have aging inventory or an outdated asset, then bartering can make sense for your business.

Help Cycles of Seasonality. Any business struggling with the ebb and flow of having a seasonal business can use barter exchange of goods and services during a slow period.

Preserve Capital. Many small businesses at certain periods during their business lifecycle will have periods of slower cash flow or limited capital. Start-ups and expansion companies with limited money for growth can use bartering as a strategic tool to acquire needed services.

Buy Media Bartering may be the simple reason your competitors are buying more advertising than you and outselling your small business. By turning your excess inventory or services into print, TV, or other forms of media, your company can maximize marketing and improve its bottom line.

5 Things You Need To Know About Business Barter

1. Money Pit: Beware of troubled companies on a quick downward spiral to bankruptcy. If your barter partner is in financial trouble and seeks bankruptcy, you may never receive your share of the barter agreement.

2. Time and Money Equivalent: Attach a time or money value to the barter. For a win-win situation to exist in a barter agreement both parties involved need to sit down and compare the exchange of goods and services in a quantitative fashion.

3. Tax Issues: Bartering does not offer a tax loophole to avoid taxation. According to the IRS tax website, “Income from bartering is taxable in the year in which you receive the goods or services. Generally, you report this income on Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business Form 1040.”

4. Business Barter Relationship: Any barter relation should be examined against the value added to your small business. A barter of 200 lbs of animal feed is going to be useless to a management consulting firm; but 3 months of free magazine advertising can greatly improve cash flow and aid your profits. If your services are not in high demand by your barter target, consider a barter exchange group.

5. Barter Exchanges: Hundreds of barter exchange groups operate in America, offering an efficient channel to barter for small business. Barter exchanges allow companies to have access to more goods and services in a quicker fashion. For instance, a graphic design firm may exchange its services with a pet food company for trade credits. The pet food company in turn can exchange its trade credits for another member`s service, such as tax preparation.

Barter exchange groups are often profit driven associations, so compare groups to examine benefits, membership costs, and obtain member references. Make sure you complete due diligence and contact organizations like the Better Business Bureau.

Is bartering for your small business? As expressed in “What They Still Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School,” business guru Mark H. McCormack says, “I am convinced that most companies don’t maximize their barter possibilities. Instead of aggressively reducing costs by trading their servi