“There is a time for work and a time for play.” That’s the moral of The Ants and the Grasshopper, one of Aesop’s Fables, which have offered sound advice since they were written in the mid-sixth century. The powerful and enduring message imparted to a grasshopper by a group of ants continues to apply to people – and businesses – today.

In the fable, a family of ants was busy one fall day drying out grain they had collected and stored in the abundant days of summer. As they work, a grasshopper comes by and begs for food. The ants are shocked to learn that he had simply played his fiddle throughout the summer and didn’t prepare for the cold months when food is scarce. They don’t give him any food, leaving him to navigate on his own the consequences of his lack of planning.

Adapting the Moral

Children and adults the world over have benefitted from the tough lesson the ants impart on the grasshopper. The lesson also offers sound counsel for business owners and company leaders. For them, the moral could be adapted to say: “It’s always the right time to save money and manage cash flow.”

It’s easy for leaders to get lulled into complacency when the economy is humming, sales and revenue are consistently growing, customers are plentiful, and money is steadily rolling in. At the same time, caution and safeguards can tend to go down, expenses may creep up, and networking may all take a back seat to managing a booming business.

The grasshopper’s sad tale illustrates that the good times are precisely the right time that business leaders should save money, manage cash flow, look for new business, make connections, and reduce expenses. They should also put methods into place for when bad times hit. Barter offers business owners a great way to accomplish these important goals.

Save Money, Manage Cash Flow and Reduce Expenses

Barter offers companies the opportunity to run their business and pay bills by trading their products or services instead of spending cash. This helps businesses save money and manage cash flow for slower times or to have to use strategically to hire a new person or grow their business. For example, a business that needs to make a purchase for $1,000 could pay by check or with an equal amount of its product/service at its normal selling price to a new customer. Which sounds better to you?

Look for New Business and Make Connections

Barter also helps member companies generate new customers and expand their market area by allowing them to promote their products or services to a large network of people with whom they may not have done business previously. The Barter Company has more than 2,500 clients in the Southeast. When one of these clients becomes a new customer for another member organization, they pay retail prices, so the businesses get the full value of their goods and services, maintaining or increasing profitability at the same time.

It’s a Good Time to Start Preparing

If the ants in the fable had been inclined to help the grasshopper, they might have told him it was not too late to prepare and explained how to get started. Then, the moral might have become: “The sooner you start preparing, the better off you will be.” We will never know what Aesop would have thought about these adaptations to his wisdom. We DO know that barter is a great way for businesses to save cash, manage cash flow, gain new customers, and grow their business.