How to make the sharing economy work for you
Need help with your business but don't have the cash to pay for it? Share the love and we’ll all get something for nothing.
About a year ago, I went to a conference for entrepreneurs setting up their own ethical business. It was less about the bottom line and more about mass meditation, but they had many inspiring and wonderful initiatives.
The one that caught my eye was a big tree in the middle of the room with yellow paper leaves fluttering in the breeze. This, they announced, was The Giving Tree.
When you are a solo business, one of the best things you can do is share resources. I don’t want to sound like an advert for home appliances or anything, but if you want to save money and time without compromising on quality, finding other people in the same position as you and swapping skills could be a good idea.
I’ve tried this myself and it’s brilliant. I have a friend who is an amazing designer who just so happens to be setting up her own design business. In return for a marketing strategy, she agreed to do a brand design for my business.
"There is a rich community of skill sharing out there to tap into if you are willing to give something back."
And that was the principle behind The Giving Tree – everyone in the room wrote down a skill on their yellow leaf, a service they would be willing to swap in return for something useful to their business. You placed your leaf on the tree and started searching for the leaf that would benefit you.
In a wider context, the sharing economy is booming around the world. Companies like Go Get, Airbnb and Uber, are prime examples of how to harness the sharing economy for big business.
More locally, you can see this happening around you. You only have to look at the recent trend in recycling and repurposing furniture, for example, as people gradually become more aware of how much wastage is in the world.
Non-monetised versions include new initiatives like Hoffice where ‘everything is based on principles of the gift economy’, a fabulous idea where freelancers can get together and work in one home office rather than work on their lonesome.
And of course, for those of who are running things on a shoestring budget, sharing is often a much cheaper option (in monetary terms) for people just starting their own business. Let’s face it, we all have plenty of skills, but not all of us are rolling in cash (yet), so it makes sense to help each other out in the short term.
In fact the sharing economy has pretty much been established by people like us who are setting up their ideas from scratch and pooling their resources. There is a rich community of skill sharing out there to tap into if you are willing to give something back. Do yourself (and someone else) a favour and start swapping. It’ll pay off in the long run.
Are you willing to embrace the sharing economy and get something in return?