What Is Barter And How Can Small Business Use It?

We are going to have a two part series on barter, what it is and how you can use it to market your business in a very unique way. Today we are going to look at barter and what it is.

What is Barter? The exchange or swap of products and/or services for other products or services you want and need – no cash needed. Barter was the first mode of exchange in ancient history. Someone would find another and trade goods and services. A good method, but inefficient, since it took time and effort to find the right exchange that would work. The invention of currency provided a more versatile medium of exchange and modern civilization was born.

Enter the modern barter exchange. We live in a time of economic change. People seek to maintain their lifestyle, but cash is more difficult to come by. The result – barter is finding renewed acceptance as a means to get the goods and services you want, while preserving your cash.

The definition of Currency is something you and I agree has value and we TRADE.

So why do we need barter in this day and age?

The paper money system has failed 12 times throughout history. Every time it is printed it is by governments so they can tax and regulate it. Every time they make the same mistake and over print it meaning it is backed by nothing. Then there is government bail-outs (the stage we are in now) followed by a crash which forces everyone back to barter. This is why this is relevant in this economy.

The barter exchange allows you to use your trade as if it were paper money

The days of direct barter are long gone, meaning that the days of “I have what you need and you have what I need and we swap or trade” are gone. This situation has now been replaced with organized nationwide and even worldwide networks. Trade even is regulated and recognized by the IRS.

Barter exchanges are everywhere in every country. A barter exchange allows you to use your trade dollars for anything within the exchange boundaries or membership.

Barter or trade is a way of moving excess inventory. It allows you to use otherwise lost revenue in downtime or employees not being productive. It helps with any type of inventory that will expire for example hotel rooms, advertising, sporting event tickets, cultural event tickets, even apartments and office space. By accepting trade for this otherwise unproductive and costly loss of revenue allows you to actually receive something for time which would otherwise be lost profit. You then use your trade dollars to purchase the things you need for your business or even personally. This is a way to increase your revenue and lower your overhead.

A barter exchange is the only guaranteed dollar to dollar investment in your business.

For example, if you go to Staples and buy printer ink there is no guarantee that anyone in there will ever use your product or service. So that money you just spend on ink is gone from your business. If you do that same purchase through a barter exchange that money will come back full circle to your business.

There are many types of trade, barter and swap exchanges.

  • Time barter (credit for time you work or credit for good grades), local,
  • Community barter (where you keep your money local),
  • Education (trade for education), and
  • Health care (one exchange calls it chickens for checkups and in Zimbabwe, barter is the only health care that exists).

All information for this article came from Instant Barter.


About Shawn Snyder

Shawn Snyder owns SRS Virtual Assistant. We work as consultants and virtual help for the entrepreneur and small business owner who is looking for help with their social media needs, email marketing and admin office help.
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16 Responses to What Is Barter And How Can Small Business Use It?

  1. Jan says:

    Interesting article, Shawn. I used bartering a lot when I first started my business. These days, I still occassionally trade my services for other services I need – usually on the request of the other person. I’ve never done it through an “official” barter system though, always one-to-one
    Jan recently posted..Top 5 Community Building Activities to Grow Your AudienceMy Profile

    • admin says:

      That is so fun to hear how others have used bartering. I enjoy it and it has helped my business because I only do a certain amount of bartering and then we do move to a cash basis or I get word of mouth coverage from my bartering customers to cash customers. So far its been a win-win for me.

      • Jan says:

        Yes, it needs to be a fair trade. But it brings other benefits too – more clients from recommendations of work is the top one.
        Tomorrow, I am going to do some blog training in return for coaching sessions so I can focus on where my business is going. I regularly have my hair cut and coloured in return for various services through the year. I had a huge veggie hamper just in time for Christmas in return for manually installing WordPress. The list goes on!
        Win-win all round :)
        Jan recently posted..Top 5 Community Building Activities to Grow Your AudienceMy Profile

  2. Amy says:

    I sell organic vegetables and baked goods at a Farmer’s Market every summer, which opens up opportunities to barter, which is awesome. This year, in fact, being cash-strapped but goods-rich, I made a deal with my daughter’s cello teacher, who happily teaches my daughter (expensive!) lessons in exchange for organic raw honey, homemade salsa, homemade bread, granola, and more! It is a great system. Thanks for the article!
    Amy recently posted..How to Succeed at Starting a Home school Theater Group Without Even Trying (more or less)My Profile

    • admin says:

      I love hearing these stories. What a great was to use what you have to get what you need. I’m going to tell the owner of the bartering club I use to read the comments she will be excited about it too.

  3. I’ve done a lot of bartering as part of the gray-market economy. I’ve traded web design for coaching, teaching for chiropractic, and writing for massage therapy. Most of the organized bartering systems I’ve heard of require more time and organization than OCD couponing.

    I hope it will grow into a workable model, though.
    Charlotte Henley Babb recently posted..Dutton on the Wisdom of PsychopathsMy Profile

    • admin says:

      I agree with you Charlotte. I believe there has always been an underground bartering system it is seeing its time and coming more popular and used more in the main stream.

  4. I did a skill swap last year – made a video for a marketing consultant, and she setup my email newsletter. Dream partnership.

  5. Audrey says:


    I have bartering before, with my Personalized candy wrappers business and exchagned with other small business. It works well for both us!
    A few years back, I did a clients birthday party(invites,favors,signs etc) and she did a photo shoot of my kids in exchange! Worked out for both us!
    Audrey recently posted..{Review} Personalized Amazing BiorhythmsMy Profile

  6. Shawn, I’ve been approached by other business owners that I’ve had consults with or other VAs that are willing to provide their services in exchange for mine. However, I never really accepted their offer because I really wanted that income. I felt like if they wanted to work with me, then they would be able to budget it in their business to work with someone that has my skills.

    Bartering is not for everyone, but I certainly don’t discourage it if it works for someone that is first starting out in their business and the funds are just not in the budget to invest in the services they are looking for.
    Aletha McManama recently posted..[Blog Content Generation] Blog Comments Build TrafficMy Profile

    • admin says:

      That’s fine Aletha. Like you said bartering isn’t for everyone. I included it as a different way to market your business. Lots of ideas out there and not all of them will work for everyone.

  7. Pingback: How To Use Barter To Market Your Business

  8. I really like this idea! Thanks for sharing it here and I must begin to look at opportunities to barter my services. :)
    Wendy Bottrell recently posted..To Exercise or Not!My Profile

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