Digging Into Business: Making the Share Economy Work For You
While the world headed into a financial crisis in 2008, a new kind of economy emerged- the Share Economy- and created a new kind of entrepreneur. Also known as collaborative consumption or peer-to-peer marketplaces, the sharing economy is a practical yet creative system in which people can make an extra income from renting out a spare room in the home, their cars, pets, clothing,personal belongings… anything you can imagine.
Forbes estimates “the revenue flowing through the share economy directly into people’s wallets will surpass $3.5 billion this year with growth exceeding 25%”.
The concept of sharing good and services is not a new concept. After all, business owners have always been resourceful with bartering, renting unused equipment, or sharing locally with friends and family. However, it is the Internet, acting as an intermediary, which has made sharing a globally phenomenon.
Searches can be expended to strangers anywhere in the world and for a fee that is likely cheaper and more convenient than an outright purchase of new items. The social web brings about a new level of trust with on-the-spot ratings, recommendations, and verifications. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter allow you to check people’s profiles before renting to them. Smartphone lets transactions happen anywhere. Borrowers can see what’s being shared nearby and pay immediately.
Even if you have no interest in renting out a room in your house or loaning your car to a stranger by the hour, you can still benefit from the Share Economy as an entrepreneur and/or small business owner. Here is how:
Lending Club is a financial services startup and online community that brings together credit-worthy borrowers and savvy investors who are willing to take a chance. The borrower provides a credit report and other background information, plus a sales pitch for why they deserve an investor's cash. The lenders can peruse a portfolio of potential borrowers and choose to fulfill loan requests. The result is often much more consumer-friendly than a traditional bank and offers a higher chance of repayment. Both benefit financially!
Barter Your Services:
Would you ever consider doing a little bookkeeping in exchange for a birthday cake for your kids’ party? Sites like BizX, Tradeaway, and Swap Treasures makes it possible to make these types of connections online. Items are listed with a dollar value so fair exchanges can be made even when actual money is not trading hands.
Another great site for exchanging services is Uniiverse. A “platform for collaborative living”, Uniiverse was created to encourage real-life interactions based on interests, trust, and community. The site features activities like jogging buddies, lessons, and get-togethers, as well as equipment rentals and hired services. Let’s say you have a passion for photography. You could probably make some extra money by teaching an intro class to someone or taking users on a photo walk of you city. Do you love fashion? You can offer to accompany someone on a shopping trip for new clothes. Users post an activity or service that they wish to offer. Others can then discover, book, meet, and pay that user through the site.
Find Office Space:
You’ve outgrown your home office and find coffee shops unreliable, but you aren’t ready to sign a lease on big office building. Perhaps it’s time for an intermediary step towards striking it on your own, a coworking space. There are plenty of financial, social, and business-related reasons to join a coworking space. The primary reason is the quality and value of being in a community. Being surrounded by other independent workers with different skill-sets, networks, and creative projects increases collaboration, innovation, and productivity.
Inc Magazine recently featured 16 Cool Coworking spaces around the US. “They’re more affordable, full of start-up geeks like you, and probably cooler than any office your start-up could afford”. Look for ones in your area as well.
Another great resource for finding an office space is Liquid Space. This mobile and web app finds available work or meeting space in your area. You can reserve the space for specific times and get access to any other services that the space provides. Hip venues, high-end business centers, handy hotel lobbies, or libraries… Find the right workspace wherever you are, whenever you need it. This is especially handy when you are traveling to a new city to meet clients and need to find somewhere better than Starbucks to win their confidence.
Upgrade Your Technology:
We all want to the latest and greatest when it comes to technology, but it’s not exactly practical to buy everything new. Rather than pay full price for a one-time or limited-time use, why not borrow it instead. Sites like Snapgoods and Zilok offer a wide range of products, from lawn equipment and party supplies to smartphones and high-end projectors, for short-term rentals.
Have you used any of the Share Economy systems in place to accrue extra income? Would you use any of the suggestions to boost your business?