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July 7,  2009

Written by Bob Meyer, Editor of BarterNews

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IMS Awarded Platinum Sponsorship For IRTA Convention

IRTA Executive Director Ron Whitney announced that International Monetary Systems (IMS) has been awarded the Platinum Sponsorship for the historic 30th annual International Reciprocal Trade Association�s convention to be held October 1 - 3, at the four-star Magnolia Hotel in Dallas, Texas.

�We are delighted that IMS is playing such an important role in our 30th annual convention,� said IRTA President David Wallach �This marks the second consecutive year that IMS has claimed the top sponsorship spot, their continued support of IRTA is reflective of the IMS leadership role within our industry.� 

This year�s theme is �The Legends of Barter,� and will re-unite many of the industry pioneers and visionaries including Barter Hall-of-Fame members and others who have contributed significantly to the development of the Modern Trade and Barter Industry. 

IMS President Don Mardak remarked, �Being the Platinum Sponsor for IRTA�s 2009 convention is a tremendous honor for IMS. We are excited about this year�s Dallas convention and the opportunity to spend time with so many of the pioneers of this industry and meet the many new exchange owners who have recently joined IRTA.�

For more information on the IRTA convention, go to or call Ron Whitney at 757-393-2292.

Attention Trade Exchange Owners. . .It�s GROW OR GO!

The magic bullet for growth is sales, always has been and always will be...yet the industry�s overall growth is anemic. Why? Maybe it�s because we�re not providing on-going education about our unique way of doing business. Knowledge is always a pre-requisite to taking sustained action.

And for those newcomers, the lifeblood of an exchange, awareness of and understanding about the value of trading is even more important.

If you expect prospects to come aboard and your members to be more active traders, but you are perplexed when the results are less than you desire...there�s a good reason. You must continually educate and motivate every month--month after month after month!

Such action is necessary because, let�s face it, more cash business, not trade, is of paramount importance to your members. You must break through this �cash only� focus and redirect their thinking toward barter. Although most exchanges don�t see the importance of doing so, many industry leaders are taking action and so can you.

As the owner of your own operation, there is an easy and inexpensive solution for moving forward...look into using The Competitive Edge newsletter. It�s a camera-ready, 4-page, professionally written, informational marketing tool...available in PDF format as well as print. So regardless of how you reach your prospects and clients, you will have the necessary vehicle.

Written especially for you, the busy trade exchange owner, I am certain it will be the best investment you ever make.

For more information about The Competitive Edge, and how it can benefit you click here.

Build Customerships & Eleven Other Valuable Pieces of Advice

By Guy Kawasaki (Venture Capitalist)

Most advice to entrepreneurs focuses on what they should do�build a great product, assemble a great team, provide great service. All are �duh-isms.� Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs don�t realize that there are things they should specifically avoid doing too. These are also duh-isms, but somehow no one ever talks about them. Here is my list of the twelve most important things that entrepreneurs should not do.

Don�t worry, be crappy. Perfectionism, first of all, is an illusion. Nothing is perfect. Even worse, perfection stands in the way of revenue and truly learning what customers think because nothing is in their hands yet. When your product is �good enough� (but not �perfect�), ship it, and see what happens.

Don�t give out lofty titles. Just because a roommate was there during the drunken weekend when you came up with the idea for your company, doesn�t mean he should be CTO. Someday, you�ll need to hand out titles like director, vice-president, and chief whatever officer, so keep them in reserve. Until then refer to each other as co-founders and describe the area of responsibility: for example, programming. If your roommates aren�t cool with this, they�re doing you a favor by showing their colors now.

Don�t hire your family. The probability that your spouse or relative is the best person you can get for a job is 0%. The probability that people will hate working at a company with spouses and relatives is 100%. The probability that one of you will have to go someday is also 100%. Never hire out of expediency. Always hire the best person you can get. This usually means not hiring your family unless you�re Jack or Suzy Welch.

By the way, if you both hire your family and give them a lofty title, you are truly a bozo.

Don�t sweat valuation. This is easy for a venture capitalist to say, but your company is either going to die or make you more money than you imagined. Whether you have 10% or 15% and whether your pre-money valuation is $2 million or $3 million isn�t going to really matter. Do the math: 15% of $0 is $0, so stop negotiating, take the money, and build something that�s worth more than $0. Whatever valuation a venture capitalist offers you, increase it by 20% and counter her offer. This is just enough to show that you�re not a pushover, but not too much that it will prolong or blow up the negotiations.

Don�t believe venture capitalists. Having said that you shouldn�t sweat valuation, you shouldn�t believe venture capitalists. It�s not that we�re all liars�we just don�t finish our sentences. Rule of thumb: add �as long as things are going well� to everything a venture capitalist tells you. For example, �I am investing in your team� or �I will be there for you.�

Don�t create lofty forecasts that you call �conservative.� You know you�re pulling numbers out of the air. We know you are too. You know we know. We know you know. So why would you forecast the fastest ramp in the history of capitalism? (It�s more likely that I will play in the NHL than you will achieve $2 billion in sales in year four.) Just project $25 million in year four, and we�ll all be in agreement about your lie.

Don�t believe that the exception is the rule. This is called the Twitter Effect. It goes like this, �We�re focusing on usage and eyeballs like Twitter. We�re not that concerned about revenue right now. Look how valuable everyone thinks Twitter is. We�ll be just like that.� Twitter is the exception. Facebook is the exception. YouTube is the exception. There, I listed all the exceptions. Everyone else needs revenue ASAP, or you will #@!! fail.

Don�t focus on partnerships. �Partnership, noun, a relationship between two parties that does not increase the profitability of either.� If your partnership doesn�t cause you to edit your Excel spreadsheet, it�s meaningless. Focus on customerships, not partnerships if you want to succeed. When you�re a big, dumb, slow-moving company, then fabricate all the partnerships you want.

Don�t build out your infrastructure. Sure, your conservative estimate is for a growth curve that makes Twitter�s look like a blip, so you need customer service, technical support, and racks of servers. I�ve never seen a company achieve even its �conservative� projections�I take that back: I�ve seen plenty of companies reach their overhead projections. The odds are that you�ll run out of money before you�ll run out of infrastructure.

Don�t assume you�ll ever raise another round. Most projected timelines should contain a event that�s called �This is where the miracle occurs.� A much better assumption is that no miracle occurs, it takes years of grinding it out to succeed, and you�ll never raise another dime, so you must reach profitability with what you already have. Miracles happen in movies, not startups.

Don�t compare your intentions to other employees� results. Most people compare their intentions to the results of others. In this way, you�re never at fault or a failure. For example, you intended to ship on time, but the sales gal didn�t achieve her expected results. The effect of this is poor morale and chasms between people. You need to face the facts: you probably delivered less than you intended. Maybe others did too, but at least you�ll be more humble.

Don�t ask people to do something you wouldn�t do. This is the Golden Rule of business. If you wouldn�t fill out ten fields of information and provide a credit card number for a free password, don�t expect your customers to. If you wouldn�t work on weekends stuffing envelopes, don�t expect your employees to. If you wouldn�t invest in your company, don�t expect venture capitalists to.


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Kaiser Health News Reports On Bartering for Health Care

By Rochelle Sharpe

(This article shows the valuable health care services trade exchanges offer their clients.)

With no health insurance and little money, Gilberto Carrasco, a Reno (NV) auto mechanic, didn't see much point in getting a physical. At 50, he felt healthy and couldn�t afford treatment even if a doctor found a medical problem.

But then his girlfriend, Eren Hernandez, figured out a way to get Carrasco a free checkup. She found a family physician who was willing to barter his services. During the physical, the doctor discovered that Carrasco had prostate cancer, catching it before the disease had spread. �We couldn�t have afforded Carrasco�s examination,� said Hernandez, who also uses bartering to get extensive medical and dental care for other family members.

With the economy in recession and many people strapped for cash, bartering of various kinds has increased. But now health care is surpassing auto repair and advertising as the service in most demand, say people who run local barter exchanges.

Alan Zimmelman, a spokesman for ITEX Corporation, the largest network of barter exchanges in North America, says in the past two years the demand for health care has jumped by more than 20%. The company has 551 physicians and 618 dentists who participate in its 100 local barter groups.

Barter is little more than a stopgap solution for the uninsured. But with doctors, dentists, psychiatrists, chiropractors and even cosmetic surgeons offering their services, bartering is providing a temporary safety net of sorts for some workers who have lost their jobs and health coverage. And in some cases, people who have inadequate insurance are using barter to get critical services, such as dental and vision benefits.

There are two main types of bartering: direct and indirect. In the former, people engage in direct trades of goods and services without using money. In the latter, small-business owners and individuals accumulate credits, or barter dollars, by providing specific products and services. Those barter dollars can be used to buy the services of any other network member. That way, a barber with a toothache can barter for dental work, without having to find a dentist who wants a haircut.

Many of these exchanges are designed for small business owners seeking to conserve cash. �Nearly 400,000 businesses participate in about 500 trade exchanges in the United States,� reported Ron Whitney, executive director of the International Reciprocal Trade Association, which promotes the barter industry.

In Carrasco�s case, he used barter dollars to buy the services of Quinn Pauly, a 44-year-old family physician who joined the barter network six years ago to expand his practice. Like most doctors who participate in exchanges, he accepts barter dollars only for his services, not for lab tests or hospital expenses. Pauly said he prefers being paid in cash, and now has plenty of paying patients. But he continues to participate in the trade exchange. �I wasn�t going to fire my patients who see me with barter,� he explained.

Debbie Lombardi, president of Barter Business Unlimited in Bristol (CN), said she's fielding about 20 calls a day from members seeking medical help, compared to just occasional calls in past years. During the past six months, she pointed our that nearly every person wanting to join her group has been looking for health care. One man recently brought his Harley Davidson to Lombardi�s office, hoping to trade it for orthodontia treatment for his daughter.

�People want to keep their standard of care up, even if they can�t afford it,� she noted; adding that she has helped people get dental implants, Lasik surgery, even the services of an obstetrician to deliver twins. �In some cases, we�re their only health insurance.�

�In North Carolina, one woman bartered for more than $200,000 of medical care in hopes of finding a cure for her fibromyalgia,� said Maurya Lane, president of the Barter Business Exchange Inc., in Cary. �At one point,� Lane said, �the woman gave her chiropractor a $10,000 laser, which he then used to treat her.�

One of the doctor�s in Lane�s group is Ellen Gray, a psychiatrist in Chapel Hill, who like many physicians joined the local barter exchange to get more business referrals. But now, she feels she�s doing her part �to expand access to therapy both for people who don�t have insurance as well as for those who don�t want their insurance companies to know they are struggling with mental-health issues. Plus, I just like the idea that people are taking matters into their own hands,� she said.

Many doctors, including Gray, will participate only in indirect barter (trade exchanges), which typically charge members 6% fees on all purchases and sales. She thinks direct barter violates medical ethics because doctor-patient relationships should focus only on healing. She said she would never want a patient who had cleaned her carpets to think he was getting substandard care because the carpets still looked dirty.

The American Medical Association has no specific policy on bartering, but supports doctors� freedom to choose how they want to be paid, a spokesman said. The government only bars doctors from bartering for more than the cash value of their services from Medicare, the federal program for the elderly, and Medicaid, the state-federal program for the poor and disabled. Anyone who barters more than $600 in goods and services a year must pay taxes on the transactions.

Direct bartering is conducted mostly on Web sites. A dentist in Washington (DC), used Craigslist this past winter to offer his services in exchange for tickets to President Barack Obama�s inauguration. This spring, Peter Fountain, 50, of East Norton (PA), posted a plea on Craigslist for a surgeon to remove a cataract. �I will paint your house, refinish your antiques, anything in the general maintenance field,� he wrote. �I need to regain my vision in order to provide my employer with the skills I have.�

Fountain, who works as a maintenance superintendent at the Western Union building in Philadelphia, said no one has responded. �I figured a lot of people considered it a joke,� he said.

Last fall, Zeo Solomon helped launch a new direct-barter Web site called Favorpals which has already had several successful health care exchanges. A dermatologist did a checkup in exchange for having his office cleaned; a psychiatrist saw someone a few times in exchange for help on a Web site design, and a family doctor conducted a physical in exchange for pastries from a famous New York bakery. �More than 20% of the 10,000 people who joined the barter site were seeking or offering health care,� Solomon said.

Direct barter appears to be most common in rural areas and in the South. In Cambridge (VT), Deb Richter, a primary-care doctor, said that she and her colleagues only barter with a few patients at any given time, and that what they receive in trade rarely comes close to compensating them for their work. �This is our way to make life a little nicer and increase community spirit,� said Richter, whose medical practice is the only one in a 25-mile radius. She has received vegetables, cords of wood and lots of pies in trade for medical services. She has also swapped Viagra samples for maple syrup.

Strengthening communities is the focus of another kind of exchange system, called time banking, developed in 1980 by Edgar Cahn, a law professor at the University of the District of Columbia law school. In these groups, people trade their time rather than the cash-equivalent of goods or services. With everyone's time considered of equal value, one hour of medical care is equivalent to one hour of painting.

Dozens of time banks operate across the country, with many offering extensive health-related services, ranging from exercise classes to medical appointments to help getting to the doctor. At Hour Exchange in Portland, Maine, which has 171 medical practitioners, more than one-fourth of the 20,000 hours that were exchanged last year related to health care, according to member Lesley Jones.

A few hospitals, meanwhile, have devised exchange programs of their own. At Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn, artists without health insurance earn credits toward free care if they perform or work with patients and staff. More than 400 people, including former Broadway actors, have participated in Artist Access since it began in 2005, painting murals on walls, drawing with sick children, and coaching medical residents on breaking bad news to patients.

At Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington, Maine, indigent patients can work off their bills by doing volunteer work. If the patients are too ill, friends or relatives can do the volunteer work for them. Valerie Taylor, 67, tried to pay off her $13,000 bill for colon surgery a few years ago. But, because she had to retire early due to health problems, she could only pay the hospital $50 a month.

She joined the hospital�s Contract for Care program, performing about 300 hours of administrative chores over the course of a year and worked off her bill. �People do want to pay their own way, and sometimes circumstances prevent that,� she said.

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