How the Sharing Economy is Helping Small Businesses Thrive

Collaborative consumption companies help small businesses set up shop.

Businesses within the sharing economy help busy people live more efficiently while supporting micro-entrepreneurs. But did you know they can also help small business owners set up shop, struggle through the lean times, scale their companies, and even improve their product offerings? Leah’s latest column in The Huffington Post is about just that. Here’s a look:

When a person decides to open up a brick-and-mortar business, push “go” on a startup concept, or venture in any other way into full-fledged business ownership, a lot of questions pop up. Questions about money, product viability, staffing, working space, equipment costs, and about whether their company will be welcomed into the market. One question in particular overshadows the excitement of having a great business idea: Is it worth the risk?

I’ve witnessed case study after case study of the sharing economy taking this risk off the table for small business founders, and let me tell you: I’m inspired. There used to be only a few inconvenient answers to the question, “How will I finance this?” A founder could get a small business loan from a bank, something that’s now so rare it’s akin to stumbling upon a unicorn at your local Starbucks. She might be lucky enough to find a willing investor or beg a personal loan from friends and family, but these options aren’t available to everyone, particularly on the heels of a recession. She could finance it herself, cash in a 401(k) plan or drain a savings account, but in this economy she may have already used any spare funds to make ends meet. Alternately, if this fledgeling founder is hip to the collaborative consumption movement, she could activate her existing idle resources to generate some startup funds and pare down or offset her living expenses during those first lean years. That’s exactly what Jamie Wong of Vayable did. Jamie boot-strapped her collaborative consumption business by renting her spare room out on Airbnb and participating in car sharing programs to save money. Now that’s walking the walk. Read the entire column here.

If you own a business, dream of starting one, or simply want to know how lean companies from cupcake shops to gaming startups are leveraging the sharing economy, this one’s worth the read.

jamiev2014

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