Do you need someone to check links on your website or want some cool swag with your logo on it? Maybe you’re traveling for a conference and need a place to stay. Chances are there’s someone who can help you with that, without your having to hire an employee or pay for an expensive hotel.
Not only can you find affordable tools and services to help in your home business, but also, you can make money by offering your tools and services.
The Internet has led to the creation of new systems and lingo in the business world. These include “collaborative consumption,” “sharing economy,” “outsourcing,” and “crowdsourcing” which are frequently used interchangeably.
What Is Collaborative Consumption?
The definition of collaborative consumption given by Fast Company is, “The reinvention of traditional market behaviors—renting, lending, swapping, sharing, bartering, gifting—through technology...” Fast Company distinguishes “collaborative consumption” from the “collaborative economy,” which is the system of network and marketplaces that helps match people with what they need with people that have it. In essence, it's how individuals can make use of various sharing platforms to sell, buy, and rent items and services.
The idea of collaborative consumption isn’t really new. People have rented out rooms in their homes (boarding) or provided freelance skills in the past. What’s different now is that the Internet has expanded the market and made it easier for people who need something to find someone who has it.
How to Save Money in Your Home Business With Collaborative Consumption
One of the biggest challenges to home business owners is in having to wear all hats when starting and growing a business. Not only do you provide the service or create the product, but also, you're the marketing/PR department, accounting department, and customer service. On top of that is the creation and management of a website, development of your brand through tools such as a logo, graphic design for your products, and more. While you may be capable of doing all of these things, chances are you’re not great at a few. Plus, you only have so much time in a day. That’s where outsourcing can help.
In the past, getting help for the more challenging aspects of your business required hiring a company that could be costly. Today, through the sharing economy, you can find a person who has the skills and will sell them to you affordably.
Here’s a list of the sorts of items you can buy or rent, and services can you get to help within your home business:
- Branded resources and other business help: Need a logo? How about a professional report? Video intro? Nearly anything you need to brand your business and make it look professional you can get at Fiverr. At Fiverr you can find writers, graphic designers, audio and video creators and editors, musicians (to make jingle) and so much more.
- Branded Swag and Tools: Need a bookmark for your new book release? How about earrings with your logo on them? At Etsy, there are a ton of creative people who will make customized items with your business logo that you can use for marketing and swag.
- Virtual Support: If you’re not ready to hire a virtual assistant, you can still get business tasks done through crowdsourcing sites like TaskRabbit and Mechanical Turk. They have people ready to research, edit, do data entry and more. Task Rabbit even has people who’ll clean your home or run errands.
- Peer-to-peer lending: Borrow money without having to go through a bank. Places to check include Lending Club and Prosper.
- Crowdfunding: A type of peer-to-peer lending in which many people contribute to your business, and usually get some special perk for doing so when your project is complete. Places to check include Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
- Room rental: If you’re traveling, you can rent a room in a home instead of a hotel. Airbnb is the most well-known resource for this.
- Car rental/driving services: Certainly you can go the traditional route for these services, but you can also get them from individuals. You can rent a car with GetAround or get a driver through Uber or Lyft.
- Coworking Space: If you’re tired of your home office, coworking space allows you to rent a space for a short time (hours).
- Gently used items: Many tools and equipment can be bought more affordably used or even rented if you don’t need them on an ongoing basis. For example, you can buy a used camera for a video blog on eBay or rent one for a one-time video promotion at Kitsplit.
How to Make Money in a Collaborative Economy
All the items and services and listed above are part of the sharing economy because they’re offered by other individuals instead of a big company. Chances are you have skills and assets you can share with others that you can turn into income.
Do you have a room, car, parking space or lawn mower that isn’t used all the time? You can rent it out.
Are you good at a particular skill that someone else is willing pay for, whether that’s a business-to-business skill (i.e. setting up Quickbooks), or consumer-to-business, such as gardening or dog walking? You can sell it.
You can use collaborative consumption platforms to list your service or item, as well as search for people who’ve indicated they need a service or item.
Here are a few places you can rent your items or sell your skill:
Sell Your Skills
Rent Your Car
Rent Your Parking Spot
Rent Your Clothes
Borrowing Magnolia (wedding dresses)
Rover (pet sitting)
Wag (pet sitting and walking)
Care (child, senior & pet care, housekeeping, tutoring and more)
Miscellaneous Items to Rent
GoBaby (baby items)
Kitsplit (camera gear)