Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Can I Have Your Attention? Barter Works Great When Economy Isn't

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Let’s face it: 2007 wasn’t the best time to start a new business in Miami Beach. The real estate market had already crashed, and spiraling gas prices would soon dent the vital tourism industry.

So when Cleveland Cook, 40, found the need to hire an accountant for Can I Have Your Attention, his new advertising and branding agency, what he really wanted to know was, “Can I have a deal?”

Fortunately he found Claudia Peralta, a former corporate accountant who was just starting her own accounting practice around the same time. The two worked out an arrangement: Peralta would do all of Cook’s number-crunching in return for a logo, website, postcards and “Everything else she needed to kick-start her business.”

Now approaching $100,000 in sales, Can I Have Your Attention is establishing a reputation and a client base despite the slow economy. But the company still has to keep expenses down, so cashless trades with other professionals make sense.

“Especially in this economy, barter helps out because it keeps your overhead low,” Cook says. “At the end of the month, the money you save goes right to the bottom line.”

He’s not the only one who thinks so. As the cash economy cools, the cashless economy is heating up. These days, more entrepreneurs are experimenting with barter. Direct barter, however, requires serendipity. Both parties must be looking for just the right product or service at just the right time–and both must be willing to trade, rather than sell.

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