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        Another AHBBO Article
        The Return of the Barter Economy ... Life Online and How to Get What You Want Without Spending a Dime

        © 2014 Elena Fawkner

        We're hearing a lot these days about the "new economy" and
        the "old economy". The "new economy", of course, refers to
        the growth of stocks in internet and hi-tech companies while
        the "old economy" (some might say "real" economy considering
        what's happened to the Nasdaq this week) refers to
        traditional, bricks and mortar stocks.

        The new economy has brought with it a revolution unlike
        anything we have seen before in our lifetime. It has
        impacted on every area of our lives from the way we
        communicate and shop to the way we work and play.

        One would think that, because it's technology-driven, the
        internet revolution would have brought with it an
        'anonymization' of business and business relationships.

        What has actually occurred, though, is an awareness that the
        foundation underlying this new medium is only as strong as
        the human relationships of which it is comprised.

        On closer analysis, of course, this is really not so
        surprising. Because we are all, to an extent, 'anonymous'
        online (I could be a bearded old man with half my teeth
        missing writing this article in my grungy vest for all you
        know) there is, naturally enough, a certain hesitation we
        all experience before taking a leap of faith and choosing to
        do business with someone we meet online. I mean, I'm not
        going to give out my credit card number to just ANYONE online
        and neither, I'm sure, are you!

        But eventually we DO make the decision to do business with
        someone online. What is it that tugs us over the line from
        hesitation and healthy skepticism to a level of trust
        sufficient to convince us it's safe to give the other person
        our credit card information or write them a check?

        Answer: we invest time with the other person, we communicate
        with them, get to know them. Electronically, to be sure, but
        there is real communication with a real person on the other
        end. At the end of the day, we trust them. It's that simple.

        So, the paradox is that because we're all so anonymous we
        must enter into relationships with each other to bridge the
        trust gap in a way that simply doesn't happen as readily in
        the 'real' world.  After all, how often do you go to that
        sort of trouble when you're passing your credit card over
        the counter when you're shopping at the local mall?  Why is
        the owner of that business, someone you don't know from Adam,
        someone you won't even think twice about giving your credit
        card information to, when you know much less about them than
        the person you're doing business with online?

        What are the implications for this relationship-based
        business model for your online business? Plenty! Much has
        already been written about how to develop trust in the mind
        of your prospective customer. What I'd like to look at is a
        particular aspect of the model and that's business-to-
        business bartering ... a new form of currency in the new
        economy.

        If you're forging relationships with prospective customers,
        you're also forging relationships with prospective suppliers
        in your role as customer. What if your prospective supplier
        wants something your business has to offer? Has it occurred
        to you that instead of exchanging cash for each other's
        services, and all the tax implications that go along with
        that, you could instead exchange services?

        And, let's not limit this to just you and that one
        individual.  What we want is a barter RING, a group of
        likeminded individuals who provide an exchange to any member
        of the barter group in exchange for something of equal
        "value" from any other member in the barter group.  This
        opens up many more possibilities than a straight 1:1 barter
        arrangement.  The possibilities are endless!

        One way to approach it would be to strike a notional credit
        value for every service in the group.  Hosting of webpages
        might be worth 1 credit per page hosted, for example.
        Someone else might throw classified advertising in their
        ezine into the barter pot.  That might be worth 5 credit
        points, for example, depending on the number of subscribers
        to the ezine.  Someone else might offer web design services
        at the rate of 10 credits an hour.  Another might offer
        webpage optimization services (to tweak pages to rank well
        in the search engines) at 10 credits a page.  Someone else
        might offer coaching/mentoring at 10 credits an hour.

        Now, someone is obviously going to have to handle the
        administrative side of all of this.  You might start out
        something like this.  Let's say you have a group of people
        prepared to barter the following services: webpage hosting,
        classified ad space, web design, webpage optimization,
        coaching/mentoring, search engine submission and copywriting
        services.

        Your first task is to 'credit equalize' the above services
        so that they are all worth the same value on a per unit
        basis.  A good starting point might be to take the market
        dollar value of these services and convert dollars to
        barter credits.  Let's say one credit equals $5 of market
        value.  Your ezine publisher charges $15 for a single
        classified ad in her ezine.  So for every classified she
        runs for a member of the barter ring, she gets three
        credits.  Your copywriter member may charge $50 for a full
        page sales letter.  Your copywriter is entitled to ten
        credits.  And so on.

        Next, each barter member would be required to agree to
        provide a certain predetermined number of credits worth of
        services to other members of the barter ring.  You may
        decide to set a fixed number of credits per month, for
        example.  Also, think about things such as whether credits
        not taken up in one period can be carried forwarded to the
        next or are they forfeited?  This has implications for ease
        of administration but there will be tradeoffs too.  I don't
        like the fact that I lose my frequent flyer miles if I don't
        take them by a certain arbitrary date.  So give some thought
        to these sorts of issues.

        As administrator, you would obviously need to set up some
        sort of a ledger to record and keep track of all of this.
        So credit each member's account with the number of credits
        they're throwing into the pot.  This also represents the
        number of credits they're entitled to redeem from other
        members.  Then it's just a matter of recording deposits and
        withdrawals of credits to make sure everyone's getting and
        giving their fair share.  Playing by the rules, in other
        words.

        And don't forget your compensation for handling the
        administration of your barter ring.  This could grow into a
        pretty major undertaking once it takes off.  Make sure you
        receive compensation in the form of additional credits.
        That's something else you need to agree with your barter
        members.

        As you can see, with just a little bit of creativity and
        thinking outside of the square, properly run, a barter ring
        can be a way to deliver real value to members without anyone
        having to spend a dime.

        Think about the people you're already dealing with day in,
        day out.  I'll bet there's half a dozen you can think of
        right off the top of your head that would fit well into a
        barter ring.

        Of course, you would only deal with people you know and
        trust (or that people you know and trust, know and trust).

        But that's the beauty of this revolution.  If you're doing
        business in this medium, your very survival is already
        dependent upon the quality of your online relationships.
        Why not put them to good use for the benefit of all of you?

        So, how about it?  Anyone want to start a barter ring?

        _________________________

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        ** Reprinting of this article is welcome! **
        This article may be freely reproduced provided that: (1) you
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        Here's the resource box to use if reprinting this article:

        Elena Fawkner is editor of Home-Based Business Online. Best business ideas and opportunities for your home-based or online business.

        Copyright 1998-2017, AHBBO.com. All rights are reserved. Monday, 25-Jan-2021 21:10:28 CST

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