Let’s talk about barter. For those of you who may not know, bartering is the exchange of goods or services without the use of money. In other words, trade.
I’m pretty serious about business finances and I don’t trade all willy-nilly with anyone who wants a shirt, but I do believe that trade can be very beneficial for both parties. That’s why I love Barter Business Unlimited. And no, BBU did not pay me to write this post; I’m writing it because we just picked up our new kayaks and I’m super pumped about it!
So, when I first started my entrepreneurial journey I had no money. (NO. MONEY.) All I could afford was trade and I happened to offer a very in-demand service : custom screen printing! It didn’t take long for me to build up my barter balance, and as such, that opened a lot of opportunities for me.
When cinder + salt first started we were in a cavernous warehouse building in East Hartford. I was doing barter job after barter job, using any extra profits from cash jobs to subsidize them, building up my trade balance because I knew, eventually, that I would need it. After 2 years we were ready to move to Middletown and open up our flagship store but the space I chose needed a TON of work. (Of course it did). It was the moment my BBU balance made the difference.
(this is a before & after of the dividing wall between the store and the print shop going up.)
Furniture & retail fixtures? Barter.
Cash can move in and out of your life pretty damn quickly, but a barter balance was easier for me to maintain. You can’t exactly buy groceries on barter. Oh wait… you can!
It's Only Natural is across the street from our flagship store in Middletown, and is a member of BBU!
Bartering has made my life feel more rich and luxurious than it really is. I’m a small business owner, I’m not exactly swimming in cash, yet I enjoy certain luxuries I couldn’t afford without barter.
It was always a life dream of mine to have a housekeeper because
A. I suck at cleaning and
B. I hate cleaning.
Can I afford to pay cash money for a housekeeper? Hard no.
But can I barter it? Eff yes!
Several of my recent vacations were on barter, like last year's trip to a 5 star resort in Mexico, where Adam definitely took full advantage of the all-inclusive perks and ate several entrees at each meal. (And he never gains weight. I hate him.)
I think the greatest perk of barter though has been my dentist! Dr. Wilson at Contemporary General Dentistry, and his staff, are awesome! I don’t have the best insurance, because let’s be real I’m a small business owner, but I can barter my dental work in full which alleviates the insurance expense.
The way BBU works is that you can barter with any company in the network. Company A can buy shirts from me and I can take that barter money and spend it at company B. Each transaction doesn’t have to be an equal trade; you can pick and choose where and how you spend your money. So, I might take 5-6 custom t-shirt orders from different local companies in my town, and then spend that barter money on our payroll service or on my in-store security system. Being in a barter network makes it easy to get what you need, on trade, without having to spend any cash.
I will never forget the moment, a few years ago, when my accountant asked me how much I would pay someone to do my job. He was making a point about my take home pay and my company’s profit margin. I gulped and said, “At least 2.5x what I’m paying myself and even that feels low...”
As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to lose sight of how hard you’re actually working because you’re very invested - emotionally, mentally & financially. I have always been more concerned about the fate of my brand, than the fate of my personal bank account. Using a barter system has made it easy for me to get certain things that I need to have a healthy, happy life, like healthcare & wellness services (gym membership, massages, vacations), date nights (restaurant gift cards, event tickets) and household needs (chimney repair, basement sump pump, landscaping, housekeeping) without having to use my precious paycheck. I’m able to pay myself what I would pay someone else, without feeling too guilty about it.
So when I heard that there were kayaks available on barter…. we got some!
I’ve been kayaking exactly 3 times in my life. Would I ever buy a kayak in real life? Hell no. But would I buy a kayak on barter? Heck yeah! Now, Adam and I are spending time looking for places to drop in and explore and we’re super pumped about it. Barter opened up a new outdoor activity for us that we probably wouldn’t have invested in on our own.
So if you’ve got a business and are interested in bartering services, click here to email my awesome barter agent, Heather. Anything I need, she finds it.