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What You Need To Know To Make Sense of Business Bartering

What You Need To Know To Make Sense of Business Bartering

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    Bartering, trading one good for another, is becoming increasingly popular as the value of the dollar continues to plummet. There are several bartering systems available online (some better than others) and activity on these web sites has increased as the economy has gotten more and more troubled. However, when you move into cashless economies, it’s easy to get sucked in. Here are a few things you need to know to make it work for you.

    1. Use an established bartering system.

    Bartering on your own is often fraught with difficulties. Establishing “what’s fair” is rarely easy, especially if you’re the guy who charges $100/hour and you’re negotiating with someone who charges substantially less. One hour isn’t always equal to one hour, and that’s not always an easy concept to explain.

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    Instead, use established systems that operate with their own version of “dollars” and have structures in place to ensure that everyone follows through on their end of the bargain. The way these systems work is that you join the system and let people know what you have to offer. People use dollars they already have in the system pay you for your products or services. Then you use your system dollars to pay for products and services that you need.

    2. Use bartering systems as a marketing tool.

    Bartering systems can act as a solid marketing tool for your business, when used the right way. People already in bartering systems have dollars that have to be spent in the system. So you’re entering a marketplace of willing investors.

    Plus, people tend to look at these dollars slightly differently from “real dollars” and are more willing to spend them. Bring the right product or service into the system, and you could introduce your product or service to a large group of willing buyers very quickly.

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    3. Avoid getting too heavily invested.

    One thing you want to avoid is getting too heavily invested in any bartering community. If there’s something in the system that you really need and would have invested in anyway, this can be a good way to obtain it. However, you can’t guarantee the quality of the professionals in the system. Just because they’re in the system doesn’t mean they’re the best ones for the job.

    And let’s face it…your mortgage company and the utility companies probably don’t accept bartering dollars. You need real dollars for the real world, and bartering dollars just don’t transfer.

    4. Spend your bartering dollars right away.

    There’s another truth about bartering dollars, and that’s that all of these bartering systems are businesses that are owned by someone. In this uncertain economy, companies go out of business in the blink of an eye. So make sure you don’t leave your bartering dollars in these systems for long. Spend your dollars quickly, just in case, so you don’t have thousands invested in this system that could drop off the face of existence without any warning.

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    5. Transition bartering relationships to cash relationships.

    When clients ask me about entering into bartering systems, I advise them to keep their offerings to introductory services only. Figure out which services frequently act as a “point of entry” to your business and offer those as barters, then convert your bartering clients into cash-paying clients as quickly as possible to avoid getting too heavily invested in the long-term.

    And, make sure you don’t get behind the eight-ball on any transaction — don’t offer to barter for something you yourself have to pay real dollars for.

    6. Prepare for taxes.

    Finally, don’t forget that the IRS views bartering dollars as exactly the same as real dollars. Earn a dollar in a bartering system, and you’ll still have to pay taxes on that money in real dollars later. Plan accordingly!

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    Bartering can be a great way to market your business and gain new clients and trade for services you need for your business. However, there are pitfalls. Plan ahead, avoid being too heavily invested, and transition barter clients into cash-paying ones, and you can benefit greatly from these systems.

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    Last Updated on August 16, 2018

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system”.

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    The power of habit

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being six hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The wonderful thing about triggers (reminders)

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to make a reminder works for you

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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