It was spring break last week for my granddaughter Zoe so she decided to spend some time with me. It was a busy visit.

Several months ago, she had agreed to barter one of her handmade books for a custom made headband from my sister Margaret. The project had been neglected for too long so she was determined to finish her end of the deal.

Zoe had begun writing her story, Finnegan and Chico Get Lost, a fictional tale about Margaret’s rescued dogs, but forgot her original manuscript at home. I suggested she start over and, as so often happens, her second attempt produced a better story.

The transaction took place at our Winter Family Sunday Dinner. The book was adorable and the headband gorgeous. Both parties walked away happy.

It was also a fine reminder of using alternative currencies.

Bartering gets high marks with creative entrepreneurs since it allows you to trade services and products without money being exchanged.

The tricky part of this is figuring out what’s an even exchange. That’s where barter clubs come in allowing you to accumulate credits. (Do an Internet  search to track down a club that suits your needs.)

A man who attended a seminar of mine in Atlanta told me that he had lived for three and a half years totally on bartering. Many people, especially new business owners, find that bartering allows them to get all sorts of things they can use without having to spend cash.

From time to time, I’ve done a bit of bartering myself. One of my favorite experiences was helping a talented photographer launch his business in exchange for a photo shoot.

Recently I heard from Karen Clare, a Facebook friend whose primary business is called A Doll a Day. She was delighted by a transaction she’d just made. Here’s what happened:

I have a friend who needed some help with his eBay sales. He’d been bugging me to give him a call.

I seized the opportunity to explain that what we really needed to do was to spend an hour together where in I would show him the tips and tricks of creating great listings. But since my expertise was valuable, I wasn’t going to do it for free.

I remembered that he was a former hair stylist (who is now on disability) and I needed a cut. So I traded out an hour and a half of my time for a great hair cut.

I am finally starting to think in new and creative ways about monetizing all of my skills, even those I used to share “freely” (no pun intended), with friends. In this instance a trade was an ideal way to go.

Have you used barter in your business? If so, I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment and share your experience.


2 Responses to “Using Your Imagination More and Your Pocketbook Less”

  1. Rita

    I love to barter. Currently I am teaching piano lessons and getting storage space built into my front room. I am also getting help de-cluttering. My biggest issue is that my husband reminds me that bartering income should be reported on the tax forms and I have no idea what to put down.

  2. Barbara

    I have no idea, Rita, about the tax implications, but I assume a good tax accountant could advise.

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