What the Sharing Economy Means for Your Business

Monday May 18, 2015

Two's a Company, Three's a Crowdsource.

The Sharing Economy is a business concept that's so new and so radical that we've been doing it since the Stone Age. It's a big idea and, once again, small businesses are leading the charge.

At its heart the Sharing Economy is small business writ large, and according to PriceWaterhouseCoopers it accounts for £9 billion in savings and earnings to the UK economy and looks to be rising fast. It can lower your costs and cut down on waste, and is a great way to turn your professional and personal networks into very real assets. It's going on all around you, and you may already be participating in it without even knowing.

Looking at it simply, if you've ever lent a tool to a neighbour or given them a lift somewhere you were already going yourself, you've participated in the Sharing Economy. What works for individuals can also work for business, and what started off as a basic part of the way human beings interact with one another has transformed into a huge industry where time, goods and even risk can be shared.

This more "human" way of working is ruffling a lot of feathers in the Big Business world, with companies like Airbnb and Uber shaking up the hotel and taxi industries. It's no wonder that there's panic in the air, but RIFT explorers know better than to get swept up in it. In fact, small businesses are defying the pessimists and leading the charge into this strange new territory. There are always dangers in the business jungle, but an adventurous spirit and the right guidance make it easy to see the enormous opportunities it presents.

As your experiments in Robot Monster design have no doubt already revealed, people respond to a new product much better if you staple a human face to it - and the same is true of your business. In the Sharing Economy, a few taps on a smartphone screen will find a customer a local supplier complete with photos, biographies and independent appraisals. The age of faceless corporations is being fundamentally challenged by one-to-one interaction and peer-to-peer reviews. If you can tap into this new culture there's a world of opportunity to explore.

If you're dealing with other businesses, then there's a lot you can learn from the Sharing Economy. Companies are sharing office space through the system, or finding the right freelancer to make up for skills or knowledge they don't currently have. Using platforms designed specifically to promote these options, they're cutting their costs and accessing markets they couldn't otherwise explore - sometimes even without any actual money changing hands. All over the world, business owners are developing closer ties with each other, and vibrant new networks are being built.

Because small business adventurers are always quick on their feet, it's not surprising that they've been the first to seize the opportunities of the Sharing Economy. Customers increasingly expect their needs to be met "on demand", and the Sharing Economy means that businesses can adapt and respond more quickly and effectively than ever before. Anything that throws up a barrier between you and your customers, whether it's the faceless identity your company's presenting or the rusty drawbridge mechanism over your volcano laboratory's lava-moat, is going to slow you down and needs to be fixed.

The Sharing Economy is alien and challenging territory to most businesses, but it's an exciting and profitable one if you understand how to conquer it. Whatever industry you're in, RIFT Accounting can show you all the best hunting grounds and point out all the hidden dangers. As government and business get to grips with this new landscape, we'll be there to make sure you're blazing the right trail.

Call us on 01233 653006 and see how we can help you today.

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