I’ve often heard the complaint from unsuccessful traders that they can’t pay some of their most important expenses on barter. If your business is anything like mine, a major expense is payroll and this article is about how I’ve lowered my payroll liability by hiring staff on barter.
There are a few basics about hiring on barter that I should get out of the way right off. Firstly, you of course are still responsible for all taxes, workers comp, and withholding just like you would a cash employee. Also, in most cases it isn’t practical to try to hire full time staff on barter. As much as I love barter, I can’t live off it 100% and that’s true for your staff too. Lastly (and you probably already know this) it’s a pretty tough proposition to switch cash staff over to barter.
So that’s all the negative news; here’s the good news. It can be very easy to hire new part time staff on barter. The easiest way to do this is simply to find sub-contractors that can fulfill a needed position in your business that are already in your local barter exchange. This is exactly how I hired my book-keeper. He comes in for about 3 hours a week and does all our books. I’ve never paid him a cent in cash. Sub-contractors are also easy because you don’t have to worry about taxes/workers comp/etc.
I’ve also hired traditional employees on barter. When I’ve done that I’ve usually found the employee by posting in the barter section of craigslist. As I mentioned it needs to be a part time position. I then pay all taxes/withholding etc in cash, but the net pay is paid in barter. I have given the staff member the choice of receiving credit in a barter exchange account or having me carry the balance for them so they can use the credit throughout my entire barter network (of multiple exchanges and direct trade partners). The key to it is that it always has to be a win-win for everyone. If it’s not a good deal for your employee, then they will not stick around.