Barters and Small Business: Home Childcare Business, Heat and Air Installation and Trading Tomatoes for Ice Cream

The Barters and Bootstraps column shares success stories of people who barter and open small business ventures, including stories on a home childcare business, a heating and air conditioning installation business and tomatoes for ice cream.

| July/August 1985

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    The cheerful tinkling of the ice cream van means barter time to my family.

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The Barters and Bootstraps column shares success stories in barters and small business ventures including a home childcare business, a new heating and air conditioning installation business and bartering with tomatoes in exchange for ice cream. 

When my husband was discharged from the army and went back to college, it wasn't long before we realized that his part-time job and VA benefits wouldn't be enough to handle our financial requirements. I wanted and needed to go to work but hated the thought of leaving our two daughters (a three-year-old and an eight-month old) with someone else. So I decided to work at home by becoming a day-care provider.

I ran a small ad in the local paper, not forgetting to mention my maternal experience. The response was terrific! With more and more families in our area feeling the need for a second income and many adults returning to school, the daycare business was (and still is) booming. After a few days of running the ad, I had made agreements with several families to take care of their children.

After I'd been running my business for a short while, a friend told me that all daycare homes and providers had to be registered with the state. I picked up the registration forms at our county health department. The forms outlined standards for children's health, discipline, and welfare. In addition, there was a form for compliance with fire and safety regulations (each home must have a fire extinguisher, a smoke detector, and two ground-level exits). Two months after I sent my forms to the state health department, I received a certificate of registration in the mail.

Once I became registered, the health department informed me that I was eligible for federal money through the Federal Child Care Food Program. Now, each month I fill out menus for the children's meals and turn them in to the administering agency. The government then sends me a check to buy food for those meals.

In short, for a $30 investment in a fire extinguisher, a smoke detector, and a news paper ad, I now have a $700-a-month home business. And, as a bonus, I've found that parents will often readily barter for child care service. By far the best deal I've made was with an optometrist: When he and his wife go out for an evening, I take care of their children, and he is fitting my husband with soft contact lenses—a $400 deal!


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