On Monday, we started a poll asking “In The Last Year, Have You Bartered For Products Or Services For Your Biz?”
Of those readers responding, 67 percent said YES and 33 percent said NO to barter.
Even in modern times, bartering remains a practical choice for small businesses. It’s a cash preservation tool, something that’s especially useful in a tough economy. It can also help move unsold inventory or put idled staff to work. Done right, bartering can even drive new cash business.
Because so many swaps are informal, the size of the small business barter economy is hard to gauge. But Bob Meyer, publisher of Barter News estimates that 1 million small businesses are involved in barter, either informally or through exchanges, with a volume of transactions approaching $20 billion annually.
Thanks mostly to the Internet, the U.S. currently boasts some 500 barter exchanges, up from about 40 in 1980. Most barter exchanges charge a onetime membership fee (typically around $250) plus a monthly fee ($30 is standard). You also pay the exchange a commission of 5% to 8% on each barter transaction. The fees buy access to a broader range of barter transactions than you could structure for yourself. You also get to join an online community consisting mostly of small business owners.
Photo by freeelpaso.