Posts Tagged ‘barter’
Everyone who has spoken of recession and economic problems recently has spoken about Greece. All that talk has been grim and highlighting the problems that the country and its people are facing. However, in every problem lies an opportunity and some of Greek’s entrepreneurs have done just that found the silver lining in the black clouds looming large over the economy. Here are 4 important lessons we can use on coping with a crisis…
A Crisis Could Turn Out to Be the Best Time to Take the Plunge
In 2008 Thomas and George Douzis were just like other young men in their twenties. But then that wasn’t the reason why I mentioned the year 2008, it was because it was in that year that the crisis hit Greece. Coming from a family that had been in the business of food the duo formed a small company, engaged in the repackaging of a range of high-end traditional Greek products – olives, feta, vine leaves.
“Quality Greek products, presented differently,” is their unique selling proposition. “All branded. Like, say, Carluccio’s does in Britain with Italian, an idea alien to businessmen and buyers in Greece up until then. Three years later, their range of 300 products is sold in restaurants, online, and at their city-centre all-Greek deli and tavern. In February this year they open in Notting Hill. The brothers employ 24 people, and expected a turnover of €1.5m (£1.3m) in 2011.
Lesson: A crisis could turn out to be the best time to plunge in to business. Life is not about basking in sunshine, it is about dancing in the rain. Isn’t it? So pull out your business idea and test the waters even if things don’t look so encouraging.
Don’t Wait for Anyone to Invest in You: Invest in Yourself!
People meeting the Douzis brothers ask them, ‘So who invested in you?’
“Nobody did,” they reply in a matter of fact manner. “They’ve grown organically, reinvested every euro in the company.” They add, “Look, it’s an attitude question in Greece. We’ve got a court to play on, OK, so it’s a bit bumpy, but it’s the one we’ve got. Either I sit at home and watch TV and hear journalists saying the country is imploding, or I get up and do something.”
Lesson: If you worry about outside funding you might never get going. Most successful small businesses spawn from the founder’s savings. Once you set a sail then plough back your earnings to get ahead. Your attitude determines your altitude right?
Use the Power of the Internet
Amid the economic storm that’s sweeping across Greece another storm is brewing… In what some call a “potato revolt,” farmers are using the internet to sell produce directly to citizens. This is a win-win situation on both sides, the farmers defeat mark-ups by large retailers and for the consumers it is a huge saving.
After farmers in the northern town of Nevrokopi sold 24 tons of potatoes at cost, Greeks around the country have expressed interest in the model. The municipality of Pallini, near Athens, helped coordinate purchases for its residents, who put in orders for 270 tons of spuds, the city said on its website. Officials and volunteers distributed more than half of the potatoes this weekend in alphabetical order to avoid crowds.
Lesson: The best thing about the internet is that it has put power in the hands of the people. We have to learn to use that power to our advantage in business. Whether its reaching global buyers or eliminating the middleman it’s really up to us how we use that power.
To Beat a Cash Crunch Explore Barter
In an economy ravaged by cash crunches the best way to deal with it is to eliminate the need for cash. Greeks all over are bartering products and services to meet their needs without shelling out the now scarce “cash”. Entrepreneurs have “cashed in” (pun intended) on the cash crunch through bartering networks that have sprung across the country.
The concept is simple. People sign up online and get access to a database that is kind of like a members-only Craigslist. One unit of TEM is equal in value to one euro, and it can be used to exchange good and services. Members start their accounts with zero, and they accrue credit by offering goods and services. They can borrow up to 300 TEMs, but they are expected to repay the loan within a fixed period of time.
Lesson: Barter is a great way to boost a new or fledging business. It is also a great way to tide over an economic crisis like the one in Greece. Not to forget a good way of improving the socio-economic fabric of a nation by bringing together people and helping them look beyond cash!
In the end I would say, there are two Greeces, one where everything looks grim and bleak and the other which is young, energetic, brimming with ideas and resilient in the face of adversity. If this crisis has left many with despair there are a number who have shown that “Action is the antidote to despair”.
Ever felt that it is very difficult to get resources for your business? Or experienced a cash crunch when it comes to getting the word out on your products or services? Or found it hard to get referrals? Take heart from the fact that you are not alone and that these problems are not insurmountable.
Barter, the exchange of goods for goods is back (wonder if it ever really went away or was too archaic?) and here’s how you can use it to boost your business….
- Meeting a Cash Crunch
Almost every business never has enough of one thing…cash. To meet a cash crunch, barter could be the way to go. You could provide your goods or services in exchange for something like a product or service that you are in need of. Say you run a bakery and need someone to supply you with boxes for packing you could offer to send the box company free bread supplies for the cafeteria until you have enough money to pay for the boxes.
You could also have a sale of what you don’t need to tide over the cash crunch. Recently I read about a farm owner who sold a wardrobe full of clothes that she really had no need for to buy a camera that she needed to record activity on the farm.
- Get Referrals
Yes…barter can get you referrals. As a photographer who offered his professional services to a music school for free learned that he could get free music lessons for his kid in exchange together with referral of his services to 2-3 corporate clients, you too could use barter to earn referrals.
It is in fact something like affiliate marketing tweaked to cut out cash from the picture. I am using this simple tactic to grow my blog as well. Here’s how…every month I feature an entrepreneur in my “Entrepreneur Spotlight” section (for free) and request that in return they link back to my blog on their website, blog, Facebook page and any other way that they can.
I also review unique, one of a kind and customized businesses for free and request the owners to suggest at least two unique or customized businesses that I can review. That way I don’t have to scour the market for businesses to review and feature all by myself.
- Creating Goods and Valuable Inputs
This way of using barter has been put to use effectively by a resort owner in Goa. Striking out on his own to carve a niche for his resort in Goa, a haven for tourists who love the sun and sand, he found a great way to get art on the walls of his resort.
Inviting artists to come over and stay at his resort while they created paintings and artifacts during their stay there and that they left behind for him to use was his way of getting valuable inputs for his venture. The art thus created helped in creating an ambience at the resort without the owner spending any money, a win-win situation on both sides…a free stay for the artist and free art for the resort!
- Give and Take
The resort owner in question also offers free stay at his resort to other resort owners and in exchange asks for the same from them. This is a great way of networking with others in the same line of business without having to spend any money.
In allowing them use of his resort facilities for free the owner is getting the same at the other end, thereby getting the opportunity to stay at other resorts, check out what’s on offer, get ideas to improve his services and above all a free holiday!
Using barter to boost your business is a good option to explore. However, it’s not something that everyone would opt for or want either. The key to success with barter in business is that you don’t worry too much or focus on exchange value (exact value of goods in return for goods). Barter is not for everyone and sometimes you don’t get a good deal but don’t let that deter you!