The rise and rise of services such as AirBnb and Uber has shown that people love to share. They love to connect with people just like themselves and avoid the impersonality of buying or renting from a big company. This doesn’t mean that businesses can’t embrace these new services, or that the sharing economy is anything new. From neighbours borrowing lawnmowers, to shops developing mutually beneficial relationships, sharing has existed virtually forever. What is new however, is the globalisation of it.
How the sharing economy exploded
The internet made it possible to share your belongings with someone half a world away. AirBnb took the concept of offering your spare room to a friend of a friend and made it into a multi-million dollar business. People all over the globe browse the rooms of strangers in faraway countries, looking for the perfect place to stay on the cheap while on holiday. Uber did the same for cars and grabbing a ride.
More that this though, they made it worthwhile. The companies and the people who use them took what they didn’t like about hotels, motels, and taxis, and created what they wanted it to be. They built easy to use websites, with secure and effective online payment gateways, transparent pricing models, and an honour system that derides the concept of hidden charges and cold customer service. The appeal of dealing with real people and the relationship that this engenders made the concept of sharing a ride or renting a room in someone’s home, a success.
What you can use in your business
Uber rides and AirBnb rooms can be a great way to cut expenses when on a business trip, but the sharing economy can also be stretched to include other business functions. AirTasker is a system that trades on the skills of individuals and enlists them to complete specific jobs. These can range from lawn mowing and light bulb changing, to freelance writing, IT, or graphic design.
A small business doesn’t need dedicated staff for every role and much of the work can be completed on an ad hoc basis. Bring in an IT person when you need work done, or call up a writer when you require it. AirTasker, and similar systems, allow a small business to post particular projects and receive a quote. Once agreed on, the freelancer will complete the work for the agreed on fee. This is a great way to ensure your budget doesn’t blow out with slow writers and people who try to ramp up the fee through taking a long time to complete it.
The sharing economy is here to stay, with more and more businesses springing up with new ideas. Clothes and appliances are the next sharing boom, with the options endless as to what will be next on the list.