A great way to improve cash flow and decrease accounts receivable is to create your own barter currency. This can be as simple as issuing gift certificates. You might be amazed how many people you do business with might accept these as payment. Of course this will always be easier with new vendors rather than ones that already expect cash from you. It’s as simple as asking the person with authority if they would accept your gift certificates as payment. Your barter exchange may also be willing to purchase gift certificates from you.
Of course, some services would be better suited than others for this type of trade. For example, my primary business is web development. Although the vast majority of businesses need a website, many of them already have a vendor in place and a website isn’t a consumable item that you need to re-purchase every month. Not to worry if you are in that situation. Here’s a cool twist on this classic concept: You can use other people’s gift certificates as your own barter currency too. For example. My firm does web development with an online grocery store that specializes in organic food delivered to your home. Because absolutely everyone has to eat, this is a perfect barter currency. Right now I’m negotiating with a local butcher shop to build their website and I’m hoping to do the same thing with them. My family does not need thousands of dollars worth of steak, but I sure do have a lot of friends in my barter network that would love to get their hands on some gift certificates for meat from this shop.
The one part I still have to work out is the actual certificates that will be used if I make a deal with the butcher shop. Currently I’m thinking that I will have numbered scrip printed up for the butcher shop which each piece of scrip worth $10. I can have them printed for the shop (on barter of course), they will pay me with them, then I will trade them away when I buy other items through my barter network. The butcher shop is a big winner too because they will have many new customers come through their shop. Hopefully once they spend their scrip they will come back and spend cash.
Of course I should mention that (regardless of what you use as currency) all sales need to be reported to the IRS. Additionally, make it clear on your scrip that they are gift certificates and ARE NOT US currency. None of us want to be talking to the secret service about counterfeiting.
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When printing gift certificates it’s important to make sure they are not easily copied. One should never use a copy machine to make their gift certificates. A good way to make gift certificates is to order payroll checks without any bank information. Leave off the banks name and bank account number. You can order checks that can be printed using your computer they come 3-4 per page. Print on the checks wording that says “Can not be traded for cash. Buyer must pay cash for taxes and any other information that you want to be made clear. Include the name, address of the merchant and the dollar amount of the check. It is illegal in California to include and expiration date.
If you only wish to make a few you can use your company letter head and simply write a statement of how much it’s good for. Gift certificates should always be signed by the issuer.