The sharing economy is making big money – how are SMEs benefitting? » SMEInsider

The sharing economy is making big money – how are SMEs benefitting?

Consumers are really buying into the sharing economy, so much so that by 2025, estimates suggest that the economy will be worth £9 billion in the UK alone.

The total worth of the sharing economy globally will be worth a staggering $335bn.

According to a survey created by car-sharing business Zipcar, 47 per cent of British consumers are now renting or sharing goods, saving them up to £531. One major sharing company is Onefinestay, a British ‘handmade hospitality’ business created by entrepreneur Greg Marsh.

Greg reveals how already existing SMEs can benefit from the sharing economy by using technology. Greg’s eureka moment has now grown into a profitable SME, now operating in London, New York, Los Angeles and Paris.

The behaviours of renting, swapping, and sharing aren’t new, but the use of the internet and other technologies to enable them on a global scale is. People have always stayed at other people’s homes but now a homeowner anywhere has a platform to market their home or spare room to travellers from all over the world,” said Marsh, in an interview with The Guardian

But what does this all mean for small businesses?

One of the first things that SMEs can do is sign up to the Government’s Space for Growth programme, which allows start-ups, small and medium-sized enterprises, charities and social enterprises to use empty government-owned space for free. This allows businesses to take advantage of the sharing economy, saving lots of money on office fees.

The development in technology has certainly changed things for SME owners. The sharing economy provides a fantastic opportunity for small business owners to cut costs and make the most of their time. Online start-up businesses such as TaskRabbit allow small business owners to hire people who can perform pesky personal admin tasks. You’ll never have to pick up your dry cleaning again?

By hiring skilled individuals who can help promote your business, you are not only getting tasks completed quickly, but you are saving valuable money from not hiring a large marketing firm. 

What the sharing economy provides in this case is accessibility and specificity. If you need an effective marketing campaign run by experts then you can use peer-to-peer platforms which use algorithms to connect an SME and a marketer who share common interests, thereby improving your business.  The sharing economy also allows you to have unlimited control over your marketing campaign, something your unlikely to have if you team up with a marketing company.

Small businesses can benefit from hiring freelancers. The Office for National Statistics states that 15 per cent of the UK workforce is freelancers, who most likely worked for a big business at some point in their career. Freelancers lower your overall expenditure because you don’t have to pay for annual leave, lunch breaks or sick pay.

The sharing economy allows your business to be much more creative, especially when your deciding what you want your business to look like. Creads, who are dubbed the first participatory creative agency, help you find creative inspiration when wanting to start your own small business. If you are struggling with the social media side of your business, companies such as CloudPeeps help you manage your social media account.

Although the sharing economy is starting to flourish, large steps can be taken in order to improve its accessibility According to an independent review published by the government, there is a lot of work to be done to nurture the sharing economy in the UK.

The report recommends for an innovation lab to be created for the sharing economy which could ‘‘provide targeted financing for sharing economy services, and support research into how sharing models can improve the delivery of services to the UK public’’