What is the Sharing Economy?
But we’re not about to get all cryptic on you. This article has everything you need to know about it, its benefits, as well as a few examples to show you its power.
What is the Sharing Economy?
Call it not wanting to box itself in. Or call it being diverse. The fact remains that there is no single definition of the sharing economy. Period.
We like to describe it as a network that facilitates the sharing of flexible opportunities between two people. Others might see it as an online space where individuals or businesses can exchange products and services.
This network of productivity™ (punchy, right?) is made possible by people connecting with each other through apps and online platforms. The result is an act of sharing between someone who needs something and someone else who can meet that need, based on their skills or resources.
5 Sharing Economy Examples
From storage and parking space rentals to ridesharing, crowdfunding and other services, these examples should give you a good idea of the sharing economy:
Who would have thought that a side hustle can be as simple as “rent my parking space online, earn an extra income”? At Stashbee, we connect parking space and storage renters with users from all over the UK. Our business pretty much fits right into the sharing economy, because at its core, it’s all about human-to-human interaction.
Take parking space rentals, for one. A homeowner might have some free space in their driveway, and be after some extra cash for their mortgage (who isn’t!). Enter someone who usually struggles to find a parking space close to work. Put the two together and *voila*! One gets a fairly passive extra income stream, and the other saves themselves from paying exorbitant day rates in a grungy car park. A double win if we ever saw one.
Crowdfunding platforms connect people on the hunt for extra cash for a specific cause with potential backers who are keen to contribute. Unlike peer-to-peer lending services (a branch of the sharing economy worth looking into if you’re an entrepreneur), crowdfunding campaigns work more like grants, rather than loans.
Recipients offer rewards, merch discounts and other bonuses, all to encourage donors to help them reach their financial target. It’s not exactly a handout situation, but it’s a great way to get a confidence boost if you’ve been sitting on that creative project idea for years.
Freelancing is not a new concept by any means. The way that specialised skills have become decent remote earning opportunities is, however, pretty new. This is largely thanks to the sharing economy.
A company like Upwork is a good example of this. It pairs businesses up with people who have the specific skills needed to help complete specific projects. It gives the business the opportunity to contract specialist skills into key areas of their operations, rather than having to go through the process of hiring the skill in permanently. The freelancer gets to grow their portfolio in return, as well as gaining more experience for future projects.
Ridesharing is a genius concept. The fact that you can hail a lift from pretty much anywhere if you have access to the internet is incredible. We love that you can track the entire route, and know exactly how much it’s going to cost you. Plus, you get to rate the Uber driver, and they you! Both parties are kept accountable, and both have a responsibility to make the experience enjoyable.
Gone are the days having to depend on public transport, or even having to own a car to get around. If you’ve been thinking about ways to save money on your commute, you might even be tempted to get rid of your car altogether. If you live close to work (or work from home now), you could save a boatload of cash on petrol, insurance, maintenance and repairs in the long run.
5.Niche services and resources
As you can tell by now, one of the major marvels of the sharing economy is its ability to put someone who *needs* something in touch with someone who *has* that thing. Niche resources like handyman services, babysitters, or even just borrowing a drill from your neighbour as a once-off can be easy with the right app.
Some business models are taking the idea of niche services to a whole new level. OLIO, for example, gives people living in the same area the chance to share any surplus food in their fridges before they reach their sell-by date with each other. They’re literally using the sharing economy to fill multiple needs in the community, as well as doing their part to reduce waste and save the planet. Small actions, big change! Consider us impressed.
The Benefits of the Sharing Economy
The sharing economy has gained a lot of momentum thanks to the rise of smartphones and the widespread availability of Wi-Fi. And by a lot of momentum, we mean a lot. As it's grown, so have its benefits:
- The sharing economy provides easy access to self employment opportunities for people from all walks of life. This has been suuuuper helpful during the lockdowns so far. Some people who’ve lost their jobs have been able to find informal work to tide them over relatively quickly.
- It also opens up a world of goods and services to everyone at the touch of a button. It does so in a way that both parties involved can walk away feeling satisfied with the transaction.
- Through the sharing economy, people can go about their lives without having to carry the burden of traditional ownership. Take ridesharing, for example. Customers have all the perks of “owning” a car, but don’t have to worry about petrol, ownership and any maintenance costs.
- In the digital age, anything that helps to embed a sense of trust in the community should be welcomed with open arms. If you’ve watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix, you get it. The more easily we can connect with the people around us, the closer we get to building a dependable community as a whole.
A Future With The Sharing Economy
If these examples are anything to go by, the sharing economy will eventually have all of us owning less, and sharing more.
We’re not even that surprised, to be honest. The sharing economy *clearly* creates a large network that helps people to meet their own needs, in a mutually beneficial way.
There’s also never been a better time than the isolation of the pandemic for us to take a step back and appreciate this fact.
Go on and tell someone about it. Sharing’s caring, after all.
17th Feb 2021