Would you like fries with that
We are used to thinking of Balance of Trade between two trading countries, but what about creating a Balance of Trade between individuals?
Would you like fries with that?
You've just placed an order at McDonalds, and instead of being asked if you'd like fries, the pimply teenager asks, "How can we help you in YOUR business?"
Being treated as a partner, rather than a consumer is what I'm advocating, because each transaction occurs within the context of a RELATIONSHIP. What sort of relationship do we want that to be? We have a choice. Do we want to support a business giant that doesn't care who we are, and has created "cattle-herding" systems designed to suit their need to make profits, or do we want to enter into transactions as partners looking for ways to help each other?
Do we want to be the victims of economic bullying, or do we want to quietly take our money elsewhere?
Sure, we don't always need the product a customer produces, but we may come across someone who does, and recommend a friend to them. And if their business is way "out there" in a specialised field which has no bearing on our lifestyle, maybe their wife, or sister, or neighbour has a business they'd like to us to support, while we keep an ear to the ground?
You see, it's all about FLOW, and if I start to trust that if I send money Joe Bloggs' way, Joe Bloggs will look for ways to send money to me, I'll be a lot more inclined to splash my "hard-earned" dollars, knowing that it will come back!
So, how could this idea of reciprocal trading be expanded?
Do I hear you saying "Not everyone has a business." True. What if it became accepted that most people do have some kind of small business, perhaps not much more than a hobby? (In fact, the system I'm talking about works best if reciprocal [fun] income is initially separated from "survival" income)
Two magical ingredients would begin to come together: an offer of a product or service that is a heartfelt expression of what someone values, or what they are passionate about, and customers/partners who resonate with those values.
Let's get out of this mindset that we are either consumers, or business operators, and entertain the idea that we can be both, simultaneously.
If we make a conscious choice to not only reinvest in ourselves and our businesses, but in those who support our business, what will happen? Firstly, loyalty will be created. Loyalty is worth a LOT of money, especially when it comes to highly consumable products and services. It's what big businesses clamour to obtain.
Secondly, as customers look for ways to divert wealth towards people they know, rather than "systems" that treat them anonymously, there would be a growth in the amount of money circulating in this reciprocal, personal, local economy.
As people find new ways to express themselves through a business, and new, interesting and more flexible ways of trading, our local economies would experience growth, as money recirculated, rather than leaked (poured??) into national and international accounts.
Finally, not everyone can physically produce their own products or services, but there are companies which provide the opportunity to act as an independent distributor of their products (or could be persuaded to). We should support such small home-business operators. Why? Because if we do, they will benefit, and so will we if the support is reciprocated!
Don't, however, just naively "invest" in people who have no intention of reciprocating. Get out there and make deals. Build trust. Begin by finding products that you habitually buy now, and shift your loyalty! Find someone willing to be a partner, then another, and another. Knock on your neighbour's door, or ask a friend to meet for coffee and ask them what they can sell you (and then tell them what you do). I'd love to see what happens if a group of people begin to act in this way! I can see a whole new way of interacting which is joyous and wealth-producing...can you see it too?
And as we eventually wave goodbye to hollow materialism and economic rationalism, money could even become somewhat obsolete.
Perhaps an ice-cream could be bought with a smile as we ask the question, "How can we serve each other?"
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