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July 12, 2011

Written by Bob Meyer, Editor of BarterNews

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From the desk of Bob Meyer... 07/12/2011

Summer Barter Expo Scheduled In Orange County, CA.

On Saturday July 30 TradeAmericanCard, one of the nation’s oldest trade exchanges (35 years), will hold their summer Barter Expo at the Business Expo Center, near the California Angels’ Baseball Stadium.

For more information call 949-225-6000.

Small Business Pessimism Hits 9-Month Low

New NFIB (National Federation of Independent Business) data shows that small business owners’ pessimism remains, due to weak sales. Their index dropped to a 9-month low. Additionally, nearly 40% of small businesses said receivables are coming in more slowly, making it harder to pay bills on time.

Sales Calls or Business Interviews?

More and more sales people are changing their thinking regarding sales calls. They’re starting to think of business clients as people rather than companies to call on. That means getting to know clients’ emotions and the preferences that drive their decision making, finding solutions and putting them in place.

Today few businesses have time for a drop-in sales call. However a business interview with advanced preparation is another matter. Interviews are results-oriented for both parties with a clear beginning, middle and end.

What’s The Difference Between A Bookkeeper, Tax Preparer And A CPA?

A certified public accountant, or CPA, is licensed by the state’s Board of Accountancy. A licensed CPA must pass an examination, fulfill educational and work requirements, plus take continuing education.

A bookkeeper typically records transactions and pays bills for small businesses. They may be very capable and have a business degree, although they are unlicensed.

A tax preparer is anyone who prepares tax returns for a fee. A preparer does not have to be a CPA or an enrolled agent, which is a tax specialist who passes an exam that allows representing clients before the IRS.

All back issues of "From the Desk...” can be accessed by clicking here.

(Please feel free to forward our newsletter to your friends and colleagues. We have a “box” at the end of the newsletter for your convenience. See you next week. . .)


Creative Renovation Embraces Barter

Major renovation costs of a commercial property can run into the tens of thousands. A $50,000 to $75,000 job isn’t unusual. If you find yourself in the predicament of having a large commercial building, instead of a trip to your bank try calling your trade exchange broker.

Request the names of companies in the exchange that have high balances of trade dollars. At the same time ask for a list of contractors who are requesting business because they don’t have enough trade dollars.

The idea is to offer the high balance member the lease of empty space within your building for a given period of time, for their trade dollars. As the owner you can then use those trade dollars to pay the contractors for renovation work needed elsewhere in the building.

Now, the twist to this unique idea is that the high balance member does not have to move into the space. Instead they have the option of renting it out, thus converting their trade dollars into a cash income stream.

Every person in this equation benefits. The contractors obtain needed trade dollars, the high balance member spends down trade dollars and realizes a new cash flow, and the building owner obtains a needed renovation without securing an expensive cash loan.


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Your Idea Alone Has No Value

By Wil Schroter

Contrary to popular belief, great companies are not born from great ideas alone. We’d all love to think that if we could simply invent the next sticky-note, we could sit back and watch the cash tumble in.

But if great ideas don’t spawn great companies, what does?

The short answer is: you. The longer, and far more complicated, answer is how you specifically position yourself and your company to execute on an idea.

Anyone who overhears your idea, or has the same idea at the same time, or basically plans on doing anything similar is already on the same playing field as you are.

In order to differentiate yourself and your idea, you don’t need a patent or some proprietary method. You need a focused plan that allows you to execute above and beyond your competition every day of the week.

Think of your competition like your favorite professional sports league. There are dozens of teams which have talented players on them, but only one team is going to perform better than everyone else. Your goal is to build that team.

Focus On Execution

There is a massive chasm between having a great idea and executing flawlessly on a business model for a great idea. Lots of people have great ideas, but very few people ever execute well on them.

Execution isn’t just about showing up for work every day and punching a clock. For the team that wins, execution is about going above and beyond the call of duty each and every day.

It’s about reaching out to your customer when there are no problems just to see how they are doing. It’s about releasing a product feature faster than your competitor even when you’re already ahead.

It’s being the first car in the parking lot in the morning and the last one to leave at night. It’s doing what the guy next to you isn’t willing to do.

Service The Heck Out Of Your Customer

Even a product that’s a total commodity, like food, can take on an entirely new meaning when you compare the service that comes with it. In your city there may be a hundred places where you can order a filet mignon, but only a handful that are considered top notch. The difference is that the elite restaurants understand that in order to differentiate their product, they need to rely on better service.

They pay attention to every detail of your experience, from the greeting you get from the host/ess to whether you’re given a white or black napkin based on your pant color.

Exceptional service is by no means a commodity. It’s a rare and unusual thing that very few companies can deliver. Chances are your competition isn’t going to go the extra mile to service the heck out of your customer, which creates an incredibly powerful competitive advantage for you.

Determine Weak Spots

It’s not uncommon for a startup company to go toe-to-toe with a much larger company offering a very similar product. On its face, it looks like the startup is at a severe disadvantage. Surely the behemoth megacorp can provide better execution and better service with its vast resources than a scrappy little startup can.

If you were to try to compete against the behemoth on their own terms you’d get crushed. That’s why startups tend to look for the weak spots in larger companies and exploit them. You can easily differentiate your product from a larger company by focusing on stuff large companies tend to fall short on.

Unlike a large company, you can offer the personal service and attention your customers love that they’re probably missing from your bigger competitor.

You can leverage your speed by releasing new versions of your product faster and responding to market conditions more quickly. You can offer talented managers founder’s stock, while a big company can only offer another bonus plan.

Every weak spot that you can exploit is another way to add value to your idea. Once you’ve identified the points, the more pressure you put on those weak spots, the more value you’ll build for your own product.

Tying It Together

Outmaneuvering your competition isn’t about doing any one of these things – it’s about doing all of them consistently. If your idea is great and novel, the only guarantee is that it will be copied. If it’s not, you have to wonder how great of an idea it really is.

When your idea does get copied, the only thing you’ll be able to rely on is your team and your execution. All of the points about going above and beyond the call of duty, servicing your customer, and exploiting the weak spots will soon be used against you.

The only defense against the next up-and-comer, and the only way to consistently create value around your idea is to stick to fundamental execution. Nothing else has value.

(Wil Schroter is founder and CEO of the Go BIG Network, the largest network of startup companies and entrepreneurs at goBIGnetwork.com. He is also the author of the book Go BIG or Go HOME.)


Is Your Trade Exchange Missing Out On Valuable New Business?

If your barter company’s listing on BarterNews.com isn’t current, you are definitely missing out on new business. The web site BarterNews.com receives heavy traffic — with over 150,000 page-views every month. Entrepreneurs and corporate executives check the thousands of articles, the weekly “Tuesday Report,” and the “Contacts Section” of our site. They use the latter to find barter companies with which to do business.

Is your barter company’s listing up-to-date?

To keep your listing current is very easy. See the links below to (A) update any changes to your company’s listing, such as new location, phone number, web site or other information, and (B) if your company has not been listed.

Here’s how to get on board:

To make changes to your listing click here.

For new listings click here.


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