Madhu Sethi, founder and former owner of Innovation Computers, a computer dealer, in Deerfield Beach, Fla., took an innovative approach to handling a collection problem and gained unexpected benefits. One of the firms he dealt with each month owed him $80,000, but it was experiencing a cash crunch and couldn't afford to pay. So, the owner proposed giving him $150,000 worth of credits through a barter service. Sethi didn't even know what bartering was all about. "It was that or nothing," he explained. "Although I was disgruntled, I agreed to the deal."

Sethi admitted that agreement was one of the best business decisions he ever made. He held on to the business relationship, collected what might otherwise have been an uncollectible debt, and was able, meanwhile, to use that barter credit to advertise in several magazines that he normally would never have tried. Eventually, Sethi became an active member in a barter network, in part because there were several occasions when customers couldn't afford to pay their bills.

Copyright 1997 G+J USA Publishing