(Evan wants to tweak this one — refers to a promotion that is already over)
There used to be a time when local economies were based solely on the barter system. A carton of eggs for a bundle of wool. Some milled lumber for a dairy cow. A lesson in this for a hand with that. Cooperation and shared resources for the collective gain held the highest value, the greatest good. A return to this model may help restore some measure of balance for individuals and communities struggling to make ends meet.
I’m no economist, but I’ve personally experienced the benefits from voluntarily trading goods and services. I’ve seen it effectively supplement tangible income when cash was not readily available. A willingness among neighbors to cooperate, share and pull the collective weight helps create thoughtfully intentional communities that thrive. When we strategically integrate the barter system into local economies, we provide incentive for everyone to contribute. By leveling the community playing field in this way, individuals are more inclined to take responsibility for themselves and develop something of value for others.
Trends indicate that entrepreneurialism is on the rise. Whether out of sheer desperation or creative will, more and more people are successfully launching their own wares and services. In a wide array of industries, local entrepreneurs are carving viable economic niches where none existed before. When we combine the spirit of the barter system with the ingenuity and innovation of small business, we empower up-and-coming entrepreneurs to flourish.
In 2012, I decided to create my own consulting firm. I had no idea what to do or how to start, so I reached out to individuals in my community who had experience with small business. My network turned out to be extensive. There was expertise in business creation, management, finance, marketing, strategic planning, program development, branding, and more. I was saved by a community of individuals willing to share what they knew — many times in exchange for whatever I was willing to trade in return. Over time, their collective knowledge became integrated with my own practice. A viable business was created from a little self-determination and the generosity of others.
In an effort to share the practical methods of my own success, I recently created the Bonedale Business Cooperative, a hyper-local group of entrepreneurs willing to share what they know. Our informal organization is really just a loose-knit crowd of Carbondale small businesses and nonprofit leaders eager to support one another. There’s no membership fee, just a simple understanding that everyone is invited to contribute something, someday. The more participation, the stronger the group — and the more beneficial to everyone involved.
Members are encouraged to host a workshop, teach a class, write a testimonial, share a product, donate some time or materials, network a little, collaborate a lot, and help each other grow. Peppered throughout public venues around Carbondale, the Bonedale Business Cooperative is designed to be casual, impromptu, and responsive to the needs of its members. Without any cumbersome bylaws, membership fees or governing executive committees, we are simply a group of people informally reaching out in support of one another. No rules. In true Carbondale form, we’re no-cost, free-range and home-grown.
To help kick off this collaborative effort, my own consulting firm, Intentional Solutions, has teamed up with nationally-acclaimed JVA Consulting to present a three-hour strategies workshop for small businesses and nonprofits. Scheduled for mid-May, the workshop will be absolutely free to members of the Bonedale Business Cooperative. How does one become a member? Simply, “like” us on Facebook at BonedaleBusinessCooperative. The content of this discussion will feature a variety of proven-effective techniques designed to articulate the big picture and implement the smallest details.
The barter system is alive and well in Carbondale, Colorado. Give a little something and get a whole lot back in return. To get involved and to learn more about the Bonedale Business Cooperative’s upcoming events, join us at www.Facebook.com/BonedaleBusinessCooperative.
— Evan Zislis is founder and principal consultant of www.MyIntentionalSolutions.com, delivering hands-on organizational solutions and strategies consulting for households, businesses, nonprofits, students, and life transitions. For more information about simplifying your stuff and organizing your life, call 366.2532 or email Evan@MyIntentionalSolutions.com.