Can You Barter For What You Need?

By Kevin M

This is a weekly open forum dedicated to increasing income, cash flow and customer base, for anybody who needs to increase business or supplement a paycheck. Salaried employees, homemakers, small business owners, commissioned sales people, entrepreneurs, retirees—this is FOR you, and we’d like to hear FROM you. What works in one household or business may not work in another, but then again it might. Or it might be modified and adapted to different situations.

Barter services. There are barter clubs set up for this purpose, and it may help to join one or two, but it doesn’t necessarily require an organization.

Everyone has services they can perform, or items they no longer need that can be traded for what others might need or want. This can be easier if you’re self employed or if your circle of friends includes a number of small business people who can provide the types of service you might need, especially any type of repair work.

Let’s say your car or your computer need to be repaired; rather than bringing the car into the nearest repair shop or calling the Geek Squad for your computer, try contacting someone you know who does such work, and then think about what services you may be able to offer in return.

It may help to make a list of skills you can do to have ready before a need arises. This can include work skills, home skills or even recreational skills. If you do data input at work or you’re a master organizer, the auto mechanic or computer repair guy may have a need for those services. Would you be willing to teach English to an immigrant or his children? This is no small point because many of today’s skilled workers are foreign born.

Can you play tennis or golf? Do you swim or play an instrument? Can you tutor students in math, science or writing? Would you be willing to teach someone in exchange for other services?

Think about all the things you can do and don’t give short shrift to any ability you have. Remember, someone somewhere is running a successful business with skills you now possess but aren’t selling to the general public.

Subletting office space—yours or someone else’s. This is similar to the boarder concept we discussed two weeks ago, except it’s an arrangement through your business.

If you have unused space in your office suite, rent out a portion to another business, preferably one which might be in a position to refer business to you, and you to them. In addition to offsetting rent costs, you might also pick up some additional business.

Conversely, you may consider downsizing by completely abandoning your office space to sublet from another business. Same situation, but in reverse; look for space in an office with companies that might send some business your way. Mortgage companies, title companies and attorneys often do this by opening branch offices in real estate companies.

Do some brainstorming to come up with a list of businesses that would compliment yours, then make some phone calls. Aim for smaller businesses that either might be interested in downsizing office space, or who might be in a position to know of one.

Job splitting. This may not offer the prospect of additional income, but it may be the thing that keeps you from being let go. There may not be enough work or revenue to support your position on a full time basis, so by combining your job with another one in the company you may keep the paychecks coming in a while longer.

This will probably also require that you learn new skill sets—which in itself isn’t a bad thing either. By learning more skills you will not only make yourself more valuable to your company, but also more employable to others.

This could work to increase your income if you are currently in a part time job—a position many underemployed people now find themselves in—and hoping to go full time. Learn new skills, step up and be the go to guy/girl and your employer may find it can’t function without you.

If you’re a salaried worker, retiree or a homemaker, what are you doing to find new sources of income? If you’re a business owner, or in some capacity responsible for bringing business in the door, what is it you’re doing to attract customers and cash flow in this economy? What ideas have you heard about or know others to be doing? What’s working, what’s not?

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