Rethinking Your Approach for a Shared Economy

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The business world is going through what could be called a "perfect storm." We are seeing throughout most industries a combination of factors that are reshaping how both consumers and enterprises think.

Airbnb and Lyft have totally disrupted the hotel and car-rental industry to the point that, for a while anyway, they were frequently making headlines throughout the media, oftentimes portrayed as the archnemesis of the more "traditional" hotel and car-rental companies. Though this may hold some truth, the latter of the group has had to face the reality that the consumer dynamic has changed - a change that most likely won't be reversed.

While the competition is trying to win back lost revenue through promotions and price cuts, sharing economy companies have quickly evolved in order to satisfy the needs of customers who are looking for cost-effectiveness, ease of use and sustainability.

It isn't just these things sharing economy companies are offering the ever-evolving market. Customers are looking for a unique, personalized and authentic experience that makes them feel like they mean more than a profit.

Turo is an awesome example of a peer-to-peer company that harnesses the aforementioned consumer expectations. The San Francisco-based startup offers a car-sharing service that connects customers with car owners who are willing to lend their car out for a price. Renters can rent any type of car they want, from a Ford Taurus to a Lamborghini.

Bringing home that unique, personalized and authentic experience, it's the car owners themselves who deliver the vehicle to the customer's home, sharing information about the vehicle or even suggested driving routes and stops the renter could make while they're cruising about. “The typical, traditional car-rental experience is much more cookie-cutter,” says Trevor Humphrey, a director of customer support at Turo. “This is much more personal.”

The Demand for Speed of Service Has Been a Driving Force

We live in an on-demand world where consumers not only want products or services in a timely manner but also want it to be an authentic experience. Digitization has brought about the speed of exchange and a deeper connection between company and customer.

Services such as uber for the trucking industry have also answered the call for speedy and simple service at more affordable rates than the traditional courier services. The Uber Freight app works just like their ride-sharing app: the driver is offered a list of destinations and the routes (Kansas City, MO to Chicago, IL as an example). The list informs the driver what the load will be and how much they will get paid. After they deliver that load the driver can find the next job on his mobile device, just like an Uber cab driver.

Customers no longer have to deal with freight companies - they can simply deal directly with a driver who owns his own truck. This is what fosters the unique and special experience that consumers have grown to crave.

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Ways Your Business Can Benefit

For those who run an SMB, finding enough money to keep things going can be a challenge. If money isn't an issue, maybe it's finding good talent. Whatever you are struggling with in your business, the sharing economy usually has come up with a solution. The sharing economy is sort of like an open source software - everyone who has something to contribute can and usually does.

Here are some ways your small or medium-sized business can get in on the sharing economy action.

  • Raise More Capital - You most likely have heard of crowdsourcing. If you have but have yet to utilize this great resource, then you are seriously missing out. There is no need to visit your rich uncle whom you haven’t visited in the last 10 years begging for a loan. Nor do you have to resort to loans. All you have to do is put your idea out there and offer some sort of deal to whoever agrees to pitch in.
     
  • Shared Workspaces - Not all startups or small businesses need an actual office space. With more and more processes becoming automated, small to medium-sized enterprises are finding that they are allowing more tasks to be done remotely. Nevertheless, companies need to get together once in awhile. This has made shared office spaces increasingly popular.
     
  • Outsourcing Small or Menial Tasks - In today’s shared economy with literally thousands upon thousands of talented freelancers with a vast array of skillsets, you could very well operate a startup and never hire an employee - if not already, then in the near future that won’t be impossible. You can easily outsource everything from logo design, content writing, content video production, mobile app development and much more.

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