Archives for June 2018

Barter in the News: 6 Way to Save Your Business Thousands Each Month

Thanks Entrepreneur for the great article on modern barter! The Barter Company is a proud member of the National Association of Trade Exchanges (NATE) where our CEO served as President multiple years. NATE is proud to be the “trade exchange for trade exchanges”. Check out this great article here or read below:

cash flowing

For the majority of small business owners, cash is most definitely king. In hopes of increasing their bottom line, business owners often pay themselves much less than they deserve. The truth is, you have to spend money to make money. That being said, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be saving wherever possible. While some tips work better than others, here are a few you can implement right away and start saving.

1. Bootstrap as long as you can.

In an era of endless technology and knowledge, it’s probably “been done before”. Just because you have competition, doesn’t mean you’re too late. There’s always room to find your niche and provide value where your competitors can’t. This is actually a great way to save yourself time and money.

Whenever possible, look to work with larger companies and utilize their pre-existing technologies or infrastructure. You can either swap services or create a revenue-sharing agreement in exchange for access to their services. Ideally, they will allow you to white-label their products so you can create an original brand presence. This strategy will surely save you thousands and give your business time to build out your own products and or services.

2. Optimize your purchasing power.

Taking advantage of group buying and collective purchasing is a great way to save cash. By joining these groups you’ll have access to discounts and exclusive rates on office supplies, hardware, business travel, and much more.

There are plenty of group buying services you can utilize based on your particular business needs. If you’re a non-profit, ThriveGPO provides a great group purchasing tool. If you’re a smart business owner, you’ll never buy alone.

3. Barter your way to growth.

If you’re looking to avoid cash outlays or unload slow-moving inventory you can always look to swap your products and services for others. Bartering with other companies can be time consuming, so if you’d rather not bargain with other companies directly you can always hire a commissioned barter broker. Otherwise, you can join a commercial barter club or exchange.

The National Association of Trade Exchanges (NATE) is a registered clearing house for member exchanges nationwide. NATE essentially allows business owners to swap any product or service with anyone. When a sale is made, participants will often receive trade dollars for their goods and services. Trade dollars are brokered across cities nationwide under NATE.

4. Get your business credit card rewards.

If you haven’t done so already, it’s a good idea to apply for a business credit card. Since issuing banks assume business owners will spend more on a business card than a personal card, the rewards tend to be much more enticing. According to NerdWallet, here are the best small business credit cards of 2017:

When you redeem your credit card rewards, you should also look to redeem in the form of a gift card. Companies often times offer gift cards that you can purchase with credit card rewards points. From a dollar per points perspective, you’ll get the most bang for your buck using this strategy. If you know you’re going to need to make some big purchases on office supplies, look to purchase a gift card for Ikea for example. Using these simple but effective strategies are a great way to save much needed cash especially on larger purchases.

5. Free trials and consultations.

There’s no better way to save money than to get a service for free. Instead of investing large amounts of money in enterprise software for your business, you can find much less expensive SaaS tools to meet your needs. These services often provide free trials, some as long as a month. After the trial period is over, they’ll typically offer tiered pricing that allows you to pay as you scale your business. Whether it’s a payments solution, CRM software, or simple accounting tools, you should always start with a free trial.

Free consultations are very effective when seeking legal advice. Some business attorney’s charge as high as $600/hour and bill you to the second. Typically, a lawyer will give you about 30 minutes to even an hour of time as a consultation with the assumption you’ll choose them as your legal council. If you’re just looking to get a few questions answered, use a few attorney’s and get a few consultations. If you use this trick with three or four attorney’s you’ve just saved well over $1000 in legal fees.

6. Review your expenses quarterly.

Generally, you should be well aware of your expenses at all times. However, it’s best to do a full analysis quarterly to determine which expenses are necessary and which aren’t. Software that you used last quarter may be obsolete to your business now, so you’ll want to cancel that subscription. It’s easy to forget about all the various software and business tools you’ve signed up for over the years. It’s good to “trim the fat” each quarter so you can make every penny count.

Regardless the size of your business it’s very important to stay on top of your financesand be frugal. Especially for smaller companies, your growth depends heavily on how your dollar is spent. If you implement these six strategies you can save your business thousands of dollars each month, so get out and build that business!

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summertime blues

A Cure For the Summertime Blues

Summer can be a perfect time for leaving town, relaxing, and slowing down. The kids are out of school and that makes the adults want to do less too. Sounds great until you realize that customers taking a break can negatively impact your sales.

Some businesses naturally have cyclical business periods like theme parks, beach resorts, ski stores, and ice cream shops. But other businesses can too. For example, an accounting firm may not be as busy in the summer and fall when most customers are not thinking about taxes. In this case, the firm’s owner has to get creative on how to bring in customers during the down times, as well as diversify their products and services, and carefully manage cash flow.

Almost all companies have slow times. Yours might be different from the accounting firm, bathing suit store or dentist. That’s why it’s important to analyze your sales figures on a weekly, monthly, and year-over-year basis. See any trends? Are there certain times that are slower than others? If so, you need to pay attention and address this open time by filling it with sales opportunities.

Here are some ideas to help ensure that your business doesn’t suffer during these slow times:

  • Promotions. The bathing suit store needs to offer special promotions and sales to potential customers who take winter cruises and early spring break shoppers. A great way to do this is through advertising. Or, email an alert to loyal customers and reward them for bringing in a friend to shop. Partner with another business that might be suffering from a slow down at the opposite time of year and offer cross referrals.
  • Diversify products/services. If you exclusively sell bathing suits you might want to offer related products in the winter such as exercise clothing to keep customers cool in the gym. If you’re a dentist run a special on teeth whitening when your appointments are light.
  • Manage cash flow. Resist the urge to spend the money that comes in during the busy times. Save it and budget to make sure you have enough to cover hard costs throughout the year such as labor which tends to be the largest business expense.

Many of The Barter Company’s clients use barter to help them through the slow times. If you have open appointments, fill them with barter customers. They will bring you barter cash that you can use on other expenses without using the money you’ve saved. Barter can also bring in new customers. If a barter customer sees the dentist and likes their service, they now have a loyal new customer who will spread the word and keep coming back – all year long.

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Our National Trade Organization Was Featured in Entrepreneur Mag!

The Barter Company is a proud member of the National Association of Trade Exchanges, the premier barter association for independent exchanges nationwide. Our CEO, Ric Zampatti, has served as past President of the Board of Directors. We are excited for the mention in this online edition of Entrepreneur Magazine. Check out this great article on modern barter!

To view entire story, click here.

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outdoor laptop work

Tips on How to Prep Your Business for a Summertime Slowdown

While the public at large enjoys the sunshine of summer, many entrepreneurs absolutely dread the “summertime slump.”

We may not be able to point the finger at a single reason why many businesses both online and off tend to move at a snail’s pace as the weather heats up, but some symptoms of the summertime slowdown include:

  • Holidays and vacations break up the traditional flow of the workweek for your workers and customers alike.
  • Many businesses, especially retailers, focus on the fall and winter months as their bread and butter for sales, versus the spring and summer.
  • The general laid-back attitude of summer often means less stringent deadlines, fewer new projects and a lighter workload.

All that being said, summertime doesn’t necessarily have to spell gloom and doom for businesses. Whether you’re a web-based entrepreneur or currently handle a team face-to-face, consider the following four ways to ensure that your business survives the summertime slump. With a bit of luck and some creativity, you might even benefit from it.

Talk with your team.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re working with dedicated employees, freelancers or remote workers: you need to outline crystal-clear expectations for your team during the summer months.

For example, if anyone’s not going to be available for an extended period of time, you should strive to know as far in advance as possible (at least two weeks), so you’re not caught understaffed. By knowing in advance when your team members will and won’t be shuffled around, you can plan out essential meetings and deadlines accordingly.

Bear in mind also that the summer represents a prime time to reflect on hiring. Typically, businesses hire fewer workers over the summer: As such, it’s certainly not the ideal time of year to cut talent loose. However, take a moment to assess your own team members and their performance, as you’ve reached the halfway point of the year to start thinking about what your staff needs in the coming months.

Hold off on huge projects.

Unless you work in an industry which thrives during the summer (think: hospitality or tourism), it’s probably best to press the pause button on any new product launches or marketing campaigns. Not only will holding off effectively keep more money in the bank, but will also allow you to wait until your team’s heads are 100 percent in the game.

Some critics may argue that timing is overrated in terms of launches, and they’re not necessarily wrong. After all, the launch that happens at all is often much better than one that never got off the ground, right? Besides, not all startup ideas rely on a particular “season” or time of year to gain traction.

However, starting early on your biggest projects affords you some wiggle room with your budget and resources. When in doubt, you’ll find that it’s better to allocate an extra month or two of prep time, versus churning out something that simply isn’t ready.

Don’t use the slow months as an excuse to slack, either. Use this time to look toward the future and think about the bigger picture of your business and its next major project.

Reassess your spending habits.

Much as you might want to rethink your team at the midway point of the year, the summer months are a great time to slash any needless expenses.

Perhaps you’ve realized that your latest social campaign is a complete bust, or that that freelancer you hired to take care of your marketing content just isn’t cutting it. Even the seemingly smallest cuts can add up over time and help grow your nest egg during the off-season.

Although you don’t necessarily have to start pinching pennies over the summer, erring on the side of caution with your business’s budget is always a safe bet.

Rethink your products and services.

Here’s the elephant in the room for many small businesses that struggle over the summer: Why do you have an off-season in the first place?

Sure, it’s easy to blame your industry, but what if there were steps you could take to strengthen your bottom line year-round? Savvy entrepreneurs should constantly look for new opportunities to sell without reinventing the wheel or investing too much initial capital. Consider strategies such as:

  • Monetizing your company blog, via offers and affiliates, to create an additional stream of revenue
  • Creating subscription-based products that guarantee steady payments month after month
  • Using your expertise to your advantage, selling your knowledge in the form of informational products (think: ebooks, online courses, webinars) or consulting services

While you aren’t expected to roll out these additional opportunities tomorrow, they’re definitely something you can start thinking about during your downtime.

Rather than allow your business to fall prey to the summertime slump, do everything in your power to be proactive. Don’t worry about “what-if’s” or the possibilities of your bottom line falling behind. Instead, think about how you can use the slower months to actually bolster your business in the long run.

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21 Years Ribbon Anniversary

Tammy celebrates 21 years with TBC!

Tammy has been with TBC since 1997, and is celebrating 21 years this June! She works as a senior broker and travel manager in the TBC office.  Congratulations Tammy on a successful career and thank you for all you do for our team and our clients! You are very loved!

You can reach her at (770) 591-4343 or by emailing tammy@barterco.comCheck out a few fun facts about Tammy below! 

tammyWhat’s your favorite thing about working at TBC? My favorite thing is working with all of the staff we have a great team and we all get along very well.

If given a chance, who would you like to be for a day? One of our office cats, they get to sleep all day.

Do you have any hidden talents?  I was a Jazzercise instructor for years and love to workout. 

If you had to eat one meal, every day for the rest of your life, what would it be? It would be some sort of an Italian dish, I love anything Italian!

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