Millennials are now filling up the job market and with them has come a different mindset—sharing, caring, and a low level of commitment is trending in Western cultures. While this seems troubling for larger corporations who are looking to keep their payroll stocked with dedicated, lifelong employees, there exists a benefit for smaller, low-staffed companies who are looking to save money wherever they can.
This is where the sharing economy (sometimes called “collaborative consumption”) comes in. The sharing economy is a socio-economic system built around the sharing of human and physical resources. When used in the right places, any small business can save capital in almost any sector.
By now you’ve likely heard of crowdsourcing by way of KickStarter, GoFundMe, and the myriad of other sites that provide the same service.
Assuming you haven’t seen the South Park episode which explains this method of raising funds:
Crowdsourcing usually involves posting your business idea online and providing those who back your project with exclusive perks, rights, or property (it could be anything) depending on how much funding they are willing to provide.
Examples of largely crowd-sourced companies are virtual-reality innovators Oculus Rift and wearable-tech company Smart Watch; both are highly successful examples, and video games and movies are among the most funded projects.
If you’re starting your company from scratch and it’s a good idea, then this may be a good place to start. However, it obviously shouldn’t be what you are relying on; after all, if potato salad can be crowd funded, anything has a chance.
Outsourcing small tasks
The majority of small services can be outsourced to the lowest-bidding individual through sharing-economy platforms. By outsourcing, I don’t mean sending the job overseas, but simply outside of the company.
Low-cost painting, cleaning, and handyman services are available usually without painstaking estimates and long-awaited appointments. Simply post the task you need completed, and most often there will be a flurry of competing users all bidding to do the job at the drop of a hat.
Even “virtual” jobs can be outsourced here. Logo design, app development, and web design are all very common tasks outsourced through the sharing economy. Think of it as hiring a freelancer but through a competitive pool of users. But don’t just hire the first one; sift through reviews, ratings, and work samples to find the person who is the best fit.
The business hubs of North America are rather far apart, making business meetings difficult. With the exception of Toronto/New York, cities like Vancouver, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Miami are relatively far from each other. Aside from Skype meetings, it can prove costly to get business taken care of cross-country.
Mainly these costs stem from two areas—flights and hotels—and since the market for airplane rideshares is rather limited, the simplest cost-cutting can come from sharing accommodations.
Airbnb is easily the most popular and cost-effective route. Lodgings are available en masse in any major city across the globe, usually at least half the price of a hotel room of equal quality. Airbnb comes with a $900,000 guarantee to provide peace of mind for any damages/theft that may occur, as rare as they may be. Additionally, Airbnb throws out discounts like they are going out of style, due to the fact most users are repeat customers.
Find temporary to permanent staff
Most sharing economy platforms allow users to make offers on jobs and unsurprisingly, the task usually gets assigned to whoever is willing to do it for the lowest price.
To eliminate the inevitable sub-standard wages that would come from this if a company needed staff for an extended period of time, companies like Wonolo allow businesses to hire “Wonoloers” for just three hours or for a few weeks. According to their press, “Wonolo also gives workers a chance at full-time employment, replete with protections and benefits.” This is pending of course a successful tenure.
These new types of job placements have been most successful for menial or repetitive tasks, but have also caught traction for positions like web design or app development where only a few weeks’ worth of labor is needed.
Have an extra boardroom? Rent it out to students as a study space or to adults for a book club. Most small businesses have underused commodities that can be monetized to generate income simply by letting others use it.
Parking spaces are likely the most profitable and easiest sell, especially in major cities. In Toronto, spaces are worth over 50k for the year, meaning the mark-up for renting one out with the sharing economy could garner even more than that if in a high-traffic business district.
The bottom line
The best part of the sharing economy is the current lack of corporate influence. It is people helping people, using commodities they already possess or have acquired for this purpose. It is able to boost struggling economies and relieve fiscal stress by providing additional income to individuals.
When used properly, any small business can save reasonable amounts of money over the long run and more than likely develop meaningful relationships along the way. Not only this, but a business can also target the assets they possess and source these out effectively and generate capital in this manner.
Has your business shared space or taken advantage of a service like AskforTask? Share your experience in the comments below.