How the Sharing Economy is Enabling Smarter Working
What started as a way to have access to a car, without the hassles of car-ownership, launched a revolution in business. Zipcar shared out its first car in 2000—igniting what is now known as the “sharing economy.” Today more and more options are available for consumers and business owners to take part in the sharing economy.
By 2025, total spending in the sharing economy could reach $335 billion, according to a report by Brookings Institute—up from $14 billion in 2014.
And it isn’t just changing the way we pay for services. The sharing economy is influencing the way we do business, too. Small businesses and freelancers can make extra cash by renting out spare rooms, office space, and equipment. On the flip side, having resources such as meeting rooms and cars easily at hand, without having to invest in a long-term purchase, can help your business save serious money.
Getting the Job Done
You’ve built your team to tackle the everyday tasks and the large and small priorities that matter to your business. But what about those one-off jobs that you don’t have time or resources to manage?
New businesses have built platforms to help you outsource tasks, from the mundane to the complex, so you can stay focused without ever missing an opportunity. Time etc connects business people with virtual assistants, making delegation a little easier. Get professional help arranging travel, writing blog posts, with transcription or invoicing, or managing social media accounts.
Similarly, Mountain View based start-up Upwork has built a platform for freelancers, connecting small, medium and large businesses with creative-class professionals who can fill staffing gaps. Post a job or task and get matched with a pool of workers ready and able to assist. Tackle one-off tasks or supplement your existing team for long or ongoing projects.
On a broader scale, TaskRabbit aims to help people get pretty much any job done, from painting a wall or hanging a picture to assembling flat-pack furniture. The system connects users with people who can help with laundry, delivery services, interior decoration, and repairs. Refurbish the office or get an extra set of hands for a move. There’s even the option to hire a personal assistant who can manage all those pesky, persistent tasks.
A Bigger Toolbox
Initiatives such as EquipmentShare helps contractors share tools and equipment, offering companies access to gear without the costs of ownership and maintenance. (Think Zipcar for Business, but for bulldozers, not cars and trucks.) KitSplit offers a similar service targeted at the creative class. Rent professional grade audio and video equipment and produce your next marketing campaign at a fraction of the cost.
Room to Spare
Home-sharing companies like Airbnb and Homestay are used by leisure and business travelers to save money on hotels. But there are also initiatives for those who either don’t have an office or who occasionally require a slightly more impressive meeting room than the kitchen. Breather is kind of an Airbnb for workspaces, where you can search for offices and conference rooms and book the space that works for your next meeting.
If you’re planning any event or a conference and you need a more creative space, consider Splacer. Operating primarily in five cities in the US, this start-up serves large and small rooms for rent by the hour.
Whether you’re renting a jackhammer for a construction project or Zipcar for a sales pitch, this new generation of companies are offering even the smallest businesses the opportunity to scale for less.