Is barter better?

During downturns in the business cycle, the concept of barter emerges as an innovative means to cope with a struggling economy. Is it?
     In my time as a business coach, I have seen too many barter deals go sideways. This can include problems that can go all the way up to the IRS level. Economists talk about three theoretical problems with barter - I'll put a practical spin on those and offer two more.
     The theoretical problems with barter are; non-standardized values, indivisibility and coincidence of want. What does this mean to a small business in today's economy?
     Non-standardized values means that one or both parties can sometimes feel like the other side got the best of the bargain, especially when a time factor is involved. Indivisibility means that while I can trade a webpage for ten haircuts, how does one make change and the other leave a tip? Coincidence of want brings that time factor in again - who gets how much of what, when?
     The other monsters hiding under the bed of barter are cash flow and tax consequences. It is very risky to trade inventory for anything. The cost of replacing inventory and the loss of gross profit from the transaction can result in business owners shoplifting from themselves.
     Tax consequences rear their ugly heads when one of the parties reports what was given up in barter as a business expense. Tax authorities will wonder where the other half of that transaction might be, perhaps resulting in a dreaded letter from the government.
     I would also offer an anecdotal observation - having had the pleasure of living through the last seven recessions, I find myself wondering why no one ever proposes barter during an upswing - Hmmm...
     Barter if you wish, but please do so with caution!

Three keys to happiness for your new website - part three

Let’s review the third key to happiness so you won’t repeat these common mistakes.

Happiness key number three – how does the date end?

If you hire a developer, always get a full set of backup files for your site so you can protect against lost data. This includes hosting information for the server storing your files, log-in credentials for server access and written confirmation from the host that you, and only you, are authorized to make changes to the hosting account.
      If you build your own website, be sure you get exactly the same things. Make backups, document your host information and keep your registration information up to date.
      Either way, build these requirements into the RFP so respondents know what you want in this important area. Having backups and server access will assure your site can be effectively maintained, updated and even repaired if necessary. Having server access will also make it possible to get additional web work done even if you lose touch with the original developer.
These tips won’t guarantee a great website but they can protect against a dreadful website and prevent a miserable site owner experience.

Three keys to happiness for your new website - part two

Let's continue to examine the three keys to happiness most businesses overlook at the very beginning of a web project.

Happiness key number two – put on your fighting shoes

After you’ve selected your web professional (or designated an in-house team member to do the work), it’s time to start fighting. Web projects are complex and have many moving parts. Each movement presents the opportunity to lose focus. Fight for focus!
      If you hire a web developer, you will need to constantly fight to keep your purpose, your needed actions and your supporting information in focus. Web developers know web but know nothing at all about your business or mission purpose. Web developers focus on their purpose – to look good to their peers and prospective customers – and will completely lose focus on your needs. Fight back!
      If you do it yourself, your ego, lack of customer perspective and personal idiosyncrasies will push you to make a site that looks good to you but not to your prospective visitors.  Most business owners and service providers are not in their own target markets, which means a do-it-yourself developer has a very poor understanding of customer needs. Fight your ego!

Here are a few additional fighting topics.
  • Fight ‘F menu’ syndrome – F menus were those old link lists that went across the top and down the side of an old ‘home page’ to link the visitors to additional content.  Don’t do that. Keep all your content on one page. Use the new agile templates if you need more screen space but don’t waste your time on menus – your visitors certainly won’t.
  • Never, ever use clip art or stock photos – these are great for mock ups or building scammer sites but have absolutely no role in a quality web presence. What the customer, client or patient is really buying is you, not a stock photo. Give your visitors lots of you. Show your team in action and decorate your site with lots and lots of you. Anything less is a waste of screen space.
  • Flash is for selling trash – resist those video splashes, moving slide shows and other visual garbage that are often used make websites look like video games. These elements always look great on the developer’s demo and are really exciting the first time these effects appear. Unfortunately, these graphic elements quickly become annoying as visitors return.
     Stay tuned for happiness key number three, coming up next!

About Me

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My promise to you
• Accessible
• Respectful
• Accountable

My Goals

1) To help business owners and executives create an actionable vision of success for a fulfilling and prosperous business life.

2) To help broadcasters and podcasters deliver engaging entertainment as a guest with expertise in business and entrepreneurship.

3) To share what I've learned in my roles as
• The holder of a masters degree in business administration (MBA)
• An operations management executive in the private and public sectors
• A community and trade economic development specialist
• A business retention and expansion consultant
• A director of small business development centers
• A certified business advisor

What my clients say:

"You were very helpful and enlightening, as well as encouraging."

"Working with Kevin takes me to my non-stop epiphany zone."

"You are really helping me to focus and grow and it was fun too."

"I came back from our meeting renewed and with clarity of direction."

"You are a fabulous asset, trusted, helpful and always cheerful!"

"Kevin helped me understand that starting a business was not my best option - I am so grateful."