In this article we’re going to show you six distinct ways to maximize value in the sharing economy. But first, let’s take a look at innovative companies like Uber, Airbnb and UpWork. What is it that they all have in common? These companies all belong to the sharing economy and leverage what’s called collaborative consumption.
These concepts cover all those businesses whose main activity involves the sharing of resources. Put simply, sharing economies allow individuals and groups to make money from underused assets. It is a socio-economic system built on sharing.
The idea of the sharing economy was born in the mid 90’s and has been evolving since then pushed by four main drivers:
Companies and people have realized they don’t need to buy and own everything — they can share. This new mindset not only decreases costs but also increases our efficiency in contributing to more sustainable production and consumption. The result a more sustainable world.
The sharing economy actually mimics life is in small communities where everybody is trusted like family and they all share tasks and belongings. Our globalized society is now reconnecting on a planetary scale through the evolution of the sharing economy.
“In its simplest form, the sharing economy is composed of hundreds of online platforms that enable people to turn otherwise unproductive assets into income producing ones.”
― Glenn Carter, Author of
Everything is valid in the sharing economy: goods, services, experiences or expertise… really whatever you can think of. The following sequence shows exactly how this new type of economy has evolved:
Shared Goods: It started off with the sharing of goods: not everybody needs to buy products that will only be used for a few hours. Post online what you have and share it with other people. This not only saves people from buying unnecessary items but also those who own the items and wish to maximize their use. The contributes to a significant decrease in the impact of our current production systems.
Shared Services: Once the sharing of goods was successful, it expanded to services: share your house (Airbnb), share your car (BlaBlaCar.com), or share your office (WeWork). You have a free room or space in your car? Post it and have someone to join you while sharing the price. The sharing of services enables users to obtain the maximum profit with their belonging while contributing to a more efficient use of resources, thus a more sustainable world.
Shared Experiences: Services can easily incorporate experiences — let’s say you want to travel to Lisbon and live like a Portuguese. Log into CouchSurfing.com to get a room and a local guide to share the experience with. Book a vacation through Gap Adventure Travels to have an indigenous local show you the adventure of a lifetime. In exchange you might offer a language lesson, dinner or a place in your house in the future. It’s up to you.
Shared Expertise: This leads us right into the last evolution: sharing expertise and knowledge. Lifestyles have been shifting to more flexible working hours and the young population is eager to travel and work on something with impact and meaning. With the wide variety of passions out there, it only makes sense that the last development of the shared economy was expertise. You can learn a language (busuu.com) or hire an expert (upwork.com). There are a lot of freelancers available for any kind of job you can imagine.
There are a lot of different terms used in the sharing economy to define the different businesses sharing activities. For more information, you can check out the collaborative consumption nomenclature post.
In a globalized world where the majority of people have access to internet and are able to speak a common language, we have the opportunity to share and make deals with anyone, anywhere and get the most out of our knowledge and property. The sharing economy brings us all together and opens the options we have.
If you are thinking of shifting into a shared economy as an entrepreneur or user, here are some tips to help you successfully benefit from all the advantages it brings:
Information is always important before committing to a shared economy deal. Be aware of the sites reviews and profiles rates. Now-a-days everything has a grading and people leave their comments all over the Internet. Check them out. Find the best.
This applies to people that want to start a company in the shared economy or for those that are “clients” of one. At start if you have to deal with one order/service it is easy, but once you get going you need to be organized so you don’t miss out on any responsibility: try asana project management (helps you have your tasks organized and team aligned) and if you want to have all your notes available use Evernote.
This brings us back to “be informed”. In a shared economy, information is essential if you want to make good decisions. Be sure to leave comments and reviews for any interaction in the sharing economy. Whether it was good or bad, leaving feedback is very important.
The whole shared economy model is built on trust. The more trust the bigger and faster you will grow. Trust is also the foundation for building a solid reputation in the shared economy regardless of whether you are the producer or the consumer.
Be proud of what you are doing! You are addressing change and taking an important step in supporting our evolution towards a sustainable society. Express gratitude for the opportunity the sharing economy presents.
Whether you are thinking about going on holidays or if you want to give your lawnmower a better use. There is space for every possible exchange in the shared economy. Offer what you have or can do and for sure there will be someone out there wanting it.
Elisa Gomez has a master’s degree in International Corporate Social Responsibility (EOI-Madrid) with more than 4 years of experience as sustainability expert for international corporations and startups. She came to Conscious Connection with the mission of inspiring business leaders to adopt CSR and sustainability practices into all aspects of their organizations.
Conscious Connection is the digital magazine for cultural creatives. Our mission is to empower people to change the world doing what they love.
We are a global community of visionary businesses, social entrepreneurs and dedicated change agents advocating for sustainability, personal transformation and eco-creative living. We feature interviews with the world’s foremost environmental innovators as well as unique editorial content contributed by industry leading experts.
But Conscious Connection is more than just a magazine -- we are part of a global movement that's uniting eco-style and sustainability values to redefine consumption and usher in a new era of abundance and prosperity.