Beyond Uber: how to join the sharing economy

You could be sitting on the next Uber — the sharing economy is here and you can dip your toes into the small business phenomenon.

At its core, the shared economy is the pairing of someone who has excess resources and capacity with other people who don’t.

You don’t need to be disruptive or take jobs from others. You are just throwing your business hat into the market.

If you satisfy a need and do it better, then customers will come flocking to you. Technology such as smart phones and social media platforms just make it easier to reach those customers.

To get started, think about what you have an excess of.

Got more than you need?

What resources, such as time, skills and capacity, can you share with others and build a business around?

For the Uber driver, it’s simple. They have excess time to drive people around, and they also have excess capacity when their personal car is not being used for private tasks.

Examine the capacity and spare resources you do not utilise fully within your daily life or business.

For example, a client of mine has two spare offices in his business that he won’t fill in the next 12 months.

He sub-leases these offices out to other like-minded professionals, and it also creates referral work for him as well as deriving income for his business.

Welcome to the sharing economy.

Think about how you can share excess time or resources with others and maybe create a successful home-based business.

Here are some new sharing economy businesses that, with enough time, have the potential to scale:

Vintage and designer label clothes pooling

Do you have any vintage or designer clothing that you have only worn once in the last 12 months?

You could have hundreds of dollars just hanging in your closet.

Could you and a bunch of friends get together and pool your rarely worn designer and vintage clothing? Could you then create a service where people can hire that clothing at a fraction of the cost of buying it for a one-off event?

The clothing can then be dry-cleaned, pressed and sealed again for the next user.

Home cooked meals meet the sharing economy

Perhaps you are a whiz in the kitchen and could sell the excess food that you cook to others in your local area who are time poor or simply don’t want to cook.

Several people have started great home-based businesses from scratch by delivering healthy, delicious and calorie-controlled meals to families and single people in their neighbourhood.

By combining the ingredients of their love for cooking with healthy eating, they have created a thriving small business.

Make sure you comply with health and the food preparation regulations in your area if you go down this route.

My garage, your garage

Nearly every homeowner has a garage with some spare space that they could rent out to other people.

During the ski season, a friend of mine rents out his entire garage to skiers to store their boots and skis when they leave and return in the following season.

He has installed racking and catalogues every item to ensure it is stored safely and securely in his clean garage.

He then freights their items to the various ski resorts so they are ready to ski.

He offers the convenience of not having to carry cumbersome ski equipment on planes and on cars, especially to those travelling overseas.

There are several new sharing services like this that regular travellers use for their convenience.

The sharing economy is not only about having a car or a spare bed in your house.

It’s about creative ways to look at your excess time and capacity.

Share those resources with time and resource-poor customers, and build a small but thriving business of it.