Posts by Lauren Perkins

The Future of Money Includes Barter

This month, the USA location of the global Money 20/20 event takes place with other such events occurring in China, Asia, and Europe later this year and next. At this event, industry experts and visionaries from across the world meet to talk about the future of money, learn about new technology, and witness innovations impacting the financial industry. Even Shaquille O’Neal will be there. Yes, very cool stuff.

Just as Bitcoin and Blockchain technologies have been the disruptive “money” focus for many years, the financial technology (FinTech) market continues to change and grow by leaps and bounds. The industry seeks to find new ways to make payments, collect money, and keep it safe. One of the “hot” topics now is digital economies which presents a world without cash. We’re already seeing this on a small scale as some restaurants turn to a cashless system only accepting credit and debit cards and payment systems like Apple Pay. And, Amazon already has “Go” stores without a checkout but rather uses technology to detect what you buy and automatically deducts the amount from your account. No more waiting in line!

So how does barter play a role in all this talk about money and FinTech? Since barter is not a new concept, it doesn’t usually capture the attention of the media or excite global business leaders. Not a lot of sizzle with barter. However, technology does play an important role in making business-to-business (B2B) barter more convenient and easy to use. A simple app can now direct you to the closest barter member, search products and services, and allow you to download a QR code for a special promotion.

More importantly, although barter keeps pace with technology, it’s not driven by it. Simple trading was around well before technology – like back in 1996 when The Barter Company started. Today, technology can enhance the barter experience, but it will never replace the solid network of like-minded business owners who make the trade exchange successful. It may not be considered glamorous or revolutionary but, in some form or fashion, barter will always be an option of how people can “pay” for some products and services.

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Barter Business Industry Sees Changes and Consolidation

Like most industries, the barter economy has seen some changes. During the Recession, many barter exchanges throughout the country closed their doors. Those of us that survived, tightened up and weathered the storm.

Once the economy picked up, a number of “new” independent and franchised-owned trade exchanges jumped to open locations in several major markets in the United States – thinking that it’s an easy business to be in. However, after a couple of years, we’ve seen many of these start-ups shut down leaving customers with trade dollars and no place to spend them. Others have merged or consolidated with other trade exchanges once they experienced some growing pains. These consolidated trade exchanges hope to improve their revenue by cutting overhead and sharing administrative costs.

Running a trade exchange is not easy as it would appear to some. Not only do you have to sign-up clients, you have to identify those businesses that would be beneficial to the exchange. Once on board, clients need constant education about how the system works and why they should think “barter” before spending cash. Those clients who get it, can’t live without it. It helps them manage their cash flow and bring in new customers. Strong and stable customer service is also essential. Having dedicated trade coordinators working with clients, like The Barter Company does, is just one way to make sure clients stay engaged with the system.

We believe that the business-to-business (B2B) barter industry is still in a healthy growth phase. Technology has been at the core of taking the ancient practice of trading into the 21st Century. Mobile devices and apps have helped make round-robin trading simple and convenient in the palm of your hand. Emerging technology and a positive economic outlook will continue to impact trade exchanges. We’re seeing this as more people are confident about the growing economy, they open new businesses and look for ways to grow their business. Of course, a solid, trustworthy barter exchange can assist any business – large, medium or small – with that by saving cash and providing new customers. B2B barter will remain a valuable component of business management for many years to come.

 

 

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B2B Barter Increases as Economy and Technology Improve

Although many financial experts think barter increases during an economic downturn, the opposite is true for business-to-business (B2B) trades. Now, as the economy has improved, we’ve seen more active trading from existing clients. Here’s why: during a recession, companies don’t have as much capacity to use their trade dollars and they “leave it in the barter bank” until the economy picks up again. Once business owners have more confidence in the economy, they’re eager to spend their barter dollars to grow and expand.

 

With an improved economy, not only are more small businesses thriving but more people are taking that leap in opening their own business. This presents more opportunities to join a trade exchange and manage cash flow which can be tight for start-ups. New business owners also crave interaction with other like-minded entrepreneurs which a good barter network can provide.

 

Technology has also positively impacted B2B trade exchanges. As technology evolves, we have embraced the latest applications to benefit our clients. For example, new mobile location apps can help a client find a restaurant that accepts their barter card whether in their hometown or when traveling. This simplifies the barter experience, as most mobile technology has done, literally placing it in the palm of your hand.

 

Most active members of a barter exchange will tell you it’s one of the best things they’ve ever done to improve their business – especially in a good economy. B2B barter helps owners save cash for operational expenses by using barter dollars instead which is an effective way to manage cash flow and grow a business with exposure to new customers.

 

The future looks bright for B2B barter and The Barter Company is committed to staying at the forefront of the industry.

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Back-to-school is around the corner!

The hot Georgia summer is in full bloom and the kids will back-to-school in a few weeks! Now is the time to get them ready and we’ve got health providers ready to help save you cash! Be sure to call your trade coordinator for helpful tips and provider info at (770) 591-4343.

Some ideas for back-to-school prep include:

  • Dental (dental exams, cleanings, fillings, braces and more!)
  • Optical (eye exams, glasses, contacts, lasik and more!)
  • Hair cuts/salons
  • Clothing & backpacks
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4 tips to getting your kids back on a regular sleep schedule

With school about to start, one of the challenges parents face is getting the kids back on a regular sleeping schedule.

Dr. Carol Ash, director of sleep medicine at Meridian Health told The Today Show’s Willie Geist and Al Roker that it’s very important to get the kids back on track as classes start because a lack of sleep will cause problems with academic performance.

“Kids are more sensitive to sleep loss,” Ash said. “They have different physiology.”

Adults may ask what’s the big deal; why not just put them to bed earlier? Dr. Ash says it’s harder for kids to actually go to bed earlier because they have a slower response to normal sleep cues.

Kids actually need more sleep than adults, so it is recommended that they get anywhere from 9-to-10 hours of sleep per night, as compared to between 7-and-8 hours for adults, Dr. Ash said.

To help kids get back into a normal sleeping routine, Dr. Ash offered these tips:

  • Adjust bedtime by 15 minutes per night – This will gradually get them closer to their ideal sleep schedule. Make it a family effort.
  • Enforce an electronics curfew – It takes children an hour to wind down for sleep, but most now have smartphones and other gadgets that allow them to text or play games late at night. Try to have them unplug at least an hour before going to bed.
  • Apply the 4-7-8 breathing technique – This helps the body relax. Tell your child to breathe in for a count of four, then hold to a count of seven, and release to a count of eight. Repeat four times before going to bed (and do the same in the morning).
  • Add fun to bedtime – Read a book and create an environment that kids want to go to at night. Fun touches can include hand-painted light bulbs or glow-in-the-dark paint, which can be used to write secret messages your children will see when the lights go out.

(See original post from 11Alive here.)

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Managing a Business Doesn’t Have to Be Painful

Do you get anxious just thinking about the administration part of running your business — like managing cash flow? Do you dread it as much as a visit to the dentist? Actually, the dentist can be the perfect place to learn about managing cash flow. Dr. Clarence Kegler of Artistic Smiles has a unique method to alleviate fears about dental work as well as business worries.

Dr. Kegler manages his dentistry practice with less anxiety by using barter to exchange goods and services for some of the things he needs to run the business. For the past seven years, he has been a member of The Barter Company and has traded dental services for advertising, printing, painting, contracting, and promotional items. “I have to buy these items anyway to help run the practice,” said Dr. Kegler. “If I can get these services through barter, it’s an easy way to save cash … or use that cash in other ways to hire a new person, expand, and grow the business.”

For 12 years, Artistic Smiles has offered patients state-of-the-art dental procedures that leave patients looking and feeling great as pain-free as possible. During his years in practice, Dr. Kegler has learned that barter can take the pain away from managing his cash flow. It has also helped him grow his practice. “Once a patient comes in through barter, they become a regular patient. And, they usually bring in their family members and refer friends and neighbors who then become patients too,” explained Kegler. “Barter helps reduce the stress of running the practice and then I can focus more on my patients.” Less fear and anxiety about managing a business will give any business owner something to smile about.

Clients like Dr. Kegler at Artistic Smiles have realized the benefits of barter to their business. At The Barter Company, we’re here to help take away some of the “pain” of managing a business by offering a barter experience based on long-term client relationships, thousands of available goods and services, and barter coordinators who provide individual client service. We work hard each day to help our clients live out our motto – “barter is smarter.”

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6 Google Doc Hacks to Boost Your Productivity

It’s one of the most widely used business tools, but it isn’t always easy to use. Here are some hacks for Google Docs that can save you time and energy.

When you run a small business, there’s never enough time in the day. Your task list is as long as a shopping receipt, and it seems to stay the same length no matter how many items you check off. And, of course, you probably want to make time for your significant other on top of that. It’s no wonder you’re stressed.

Small-business loan provider Fundera surveyed several hundred business owners last year and found that 19 percent of small-business owners work more than 60 hours a week. It also found that 70 percent work more than 40 hours a week, and 89 percent work on weekends.

You’re most likely overseeing a litany of business operations, from hiring and sales to marketing and customer service. Improving your productivity isn’t only about working harder or faster, it’s also about working smarter. Leveraging tools can help you make the most of your time.

Google Docs is one of the tools most widely used by entrepreneurs these days. It can help you squeeze the most out of every hour and run your business more effectively. But are you using it as efficiently as possible? Here are some ideas that can help you optimize it.

1. Get organized with color coding.

Business owners use Google Docs and Sheets for everything from tracking employee hours to creating marketing collateral. Over time, your Drive can get pretty messy and crowded. And if you can’t remember the exact name of a doc or sheet, you’re forced to waste time looking for it.

Color coding your folders will stop this. You’ll locate your materials far more easily. First, create new folders and sort your docs. Next, right click or control click any folder. Select “Change Color” and choose from any of the 24 hues.

2. Make conference calls from within a doc.

Add-ons are companion apps for G Suite that allow you to perform a variety of tasks. Let’s say you’re collaborating on a Google doc with two of your employees. The UberConference add-on lets you book a conference call with your collaborators right from the sidebar.

To get the add-on, open your doc, and then click “Add-ons” and “Get Add-ons.” Type “UberConference” into the search bar and click the blue plus sign. Then allow the app to access your Google account.

To launch the add-on, click the add-ons menu and select “UberConference/Launch Sidebar.”

3. Use templates for recurring projects.

If you find yourself struggling to format project proposals, meeting agendas, or customer invoices, use a template you can quickly modify as needed. This way you don’t have to start from scratch every time.

Navigate to drive.google.com/templates and choose from a variety of preformatted docs. This list includes business letters, project proposals, onboarding notes, and job-offer letters.

Other templates, like consulting agreements, sales quotes, and statements of work, are available as add-ons.

4. Add your signature to a document.

How many times have you printed a document, signed it, then scanned and emailed it to someone? Imagine how much time you’d save over the course of a year if you could add your signature to a document with the click of a button.

The PandaDoc add-on inserts your e-signature to a doc from any device. After you get the add-on, you’ll be prompted to connect to PandaDoc and create an account. Once that’s done, activate the add-on to open a sidebar and draw your signature. Click it to add it to your doc.

5. Use your voice to type.

There are plenty of situations where it might be more convenient to speak your draft than type it. Try the Voice Typing feature to speed up the creation of a Google doc.

From Tools, select “Voice Typing.” Click the black microphone icon and begin speaking after it turns red. You can add common punctuation by saying “period,” “comma,” “exclamation point,” or “question mark.”

6. Send a fax without a fax machine.

Have a love-hate relationship with your fax machine? The HelloFax add-on enables you to fax documents from within Google Docs. It may inspire you to kick that clunky machine to the curb once and for all.

To fax a Google doc, simply open the add-on, enter the fax number, and click “Send.” Add an optional cover page in less than 20 seconds.

When you use these hacks to extend your abilities, you can get more done in less time. Who knows, you might even clock a 40-hour workweek for a change.

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12 Things You Can Do Right Now to Improve Your Company’s Culture

This list of quick-strike team boosters will put you on the path to culture-building success.

Great company culture isn’t created overnight. At Hireology, the company I co-founded eight years ago, we put a lot of intention, action and oversight into making sure we have a culture by design; culture by default doesn’t give us the competitive edge we need to achieve our goals. We work hard at it every single day.

While building an award-winning workplace takes time, but there are actions you can take right now to move your company in a positive direction.

1. Increase transparency

In the absence of clear information, your team will fill in the blanks with a litany of “worst case scenarios.” Pat in Customer Service was let go? Mass layoffs are coming!

Share information. Talk about your cash balance, and how you manage it.  When you show your comfort level with openly discussing important information, you communicate a critical component of great workplace culture:  I trust you.

2. Reconfirm the vision

Your early joiners drank the Kool-Aid, but you’ve hired lots of new people since then. Do they know why you started this company?

At the next town hall, put together a 10 slide “pitch deck” and present the business as if you’re talking to a venture capital firm. Make a passionate case for why you should exist as a business, and why your team should back you 100%. Inspire them to give every ounce of incremental effort that they can.

3. Fire someone

I want you to think of “that person.” You know who this person is: When you go to bed at night, as your head hits the pillow, the last thought running through your mind is, “How. In the world. Did this person. Get a job. In. My. Company?

Keeping this person employed signals to everyone else that you’re willing to tolerate mediocrity. That violating company core values is ok.

Fire this person. Do it today. Do it humanely, do it legally. But do it.

4. Thank someone with a handwritten note

When was the last time you got an honest-to-God handwritten note or letter? It’s probably been a while, right?

It takes time and thoughtfulness on the part of the sender to hand-write a note. It’s a real, tangible thing.  Think of someone in your organization who’s done something great, and thank them with a handwritten note.

5. Give public praise

Someone in your company did something amazing last week. They landed that deal, they saved the account, they engineered the solution.

Walk into the center of your office and make that announcement. Publicly share this individual’s accomplishment, and why it was exceptional. Ask everyone to give a standing ovation. (Make it loud!)

6. Show vulnerability

You might think you’re approachable, but you’re not.  You’re the CEO, and you’re scary.

Remind your team that you’re still a human being with hopes, dreams and fears about the business. Talk about a low point in your career, how you got there, and how you got back on track. Talk about your successes, what you’re most proud of, and why.

7. Run a contest

There’s a reason that game shows have been among the highest-rated television programs for over 60 years: they’re fun.

Pick a target you’d like to hit – new appointments set, new accounts opened, anything –  and whoever hits that target gets raffle ticket. At the end of the month, raffle off a three day weekend. Second place gets a $50 gift card. Third place, you’re fired! (Kidding.)

8. Sit on the sales floor

What inspiring leader sits thirty miles behind the front lines?  Go to where the action is and rally your team.

Pick an open desk on the sales floor and spend the next five hours making cold calls with them. Put 100 percent effort into it — exceed your own number. Talk to prospects, set meetings. Show that it can be done, and that the sales role is a critical one, because without new business, there is no business.

9. Take a team to lunch

What’s the least-recognized team in your company? It’s time to give them some props.

Reserve a private room at a nice restaurant, and take a two hour lunch. Don’t skimp, get loads of appetizers and order everyone desert. Show your love for the people who grind it out for you every day.

10. Give everyone a day off this Friday

Your team has worked its tail off this month, and you’re darn proud of them. Everyone gets Friday off. Have a great weekend, see you Monday.

11. Interview your superstars

Grab a smartphone and shoot an interview-style video with three of your star performers. Hearing your best people talk about why they love what they do inspires everybody.

Post it on YouTube. Social media the heck out of it.

12. Ask for feedback

Everyone has room to improve – even you. So, send an email to your entire company and ask for their help.

Create a Google form that gives them the space to provide anonymous feedback on how you’re doing as CEO. What could you do differently? What could the company do differently?

Want better culture? Do these twelve things. Do them now.

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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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