This is a great time to start or grow a small business. With the rise of collaborative consumption as a viable economic model, people are inventing brand-new ways to earn a living and reshaping the world of work. It’s much bigger than Uber and Lyft; people are using phones and computer-based apps to find all manner of peer-to-peer work. Airbnb and Couchsurfing allow you to rent a room in someone’s home. You can also locate pet sitters and custom crafters online. There are even apps where you can hire someone to make you soup when you’re sick. Human ingenuity has no bounds; if you can imagine it, you can monetize it. However, it just takes the right setup and planning to become successful in the sharing economy.
The following tips from Keetria can help you find your footing in the sharing economy.
Understand What You Need to Do
Thanks to the gig economy, you don’t need to be an experienced entrepreneur to run a successful business today! As long as you find a platform where you can offer your services and find your first customers, you can start your own business. First, you’ll need to work out a business plan and preliminary budget. These documents will come in handy should you ever decide to apply for grants or look for a business partner.
After you’ve sorted out these important documents, think about how you’ll pay yourself and any staff you hire. It’s important to keep your business and personal finances separated, and you need to dogear funds to send to Uncle Sam on a regular basis. You should also set aside money to pay for health insurance, retirement, and so forth. A payroll app like Quickbooks is the easiest solution. It will remind you about paydays and tax deadlines, allows you to do things like generate payroll on the fly, and even provides you with free direct deposit. The easier you can make it to tackle mundane and complicated concerns like payroll, the better!
Find Your Niche
Having a great idea is just the beginning. Do a little homegrown market research and find out if you have competitors. If you do, consider taking one to lunch. For the price of a meal, you can pick up some information about the nature of the work you plan to do and what the market for that work is like. Look around online to see what is doing well in your area and what platforms exist to support your work. Make sure you avoid the most common pitfalls. Businesses fail when they forget both sides have to get something they want. Sharing should be a win-win situation. However, if you provide poor service or fail to solve the problem you’re addressing, your business will fail too. Make sure your focus is narrow enough to make you stand out from the competition and your consumer base broad enough to support a profit.
Create a Workspace
When your jobs come in on your phone around the clock, it can feel like you’re always working. Designating a workspace and work hours can help you balance your life. This can be a room or area at home where you keep your computer, printer and records for your business, but it can also be a place you leave home and go to each day. Individually rentable office space is another big part of the new economy. The point is to have a place where you handle work-related business away from your personal life. This will help you to be more productive during the hours you are working and allow you to “leave work at the office” mentally when you aren’t.
Get Buzz Going
It’s hard to get clients if you aren’t easy to find. Make sure you’re on social media and all the relevant apps and platforms. Think of it as good advertising. You may even want to up your game as you get a little more successful and network with others in related lines of work. Say that you’re running a tidy little shop online making custom wedding cakes. You have a friend who is running her business over on Etsy doing calligraphy and etching glass. Consider working together to throw each other clients; people who want wedding cakes often want engraved champagne flutes as well. These supportive networks can be as important to your success as the very platform you use to market your work, so don’t neglect them.
If you are a successful small business, making use of online apps, social media marketing, and the sharing economy will really help you to reach new customers and expand your brand. And if you’re thinking about going into business, the sharing economy means it has never been easier. Every day brings some new way to find your market, and the future is limitless.
Keetria is an entrepreneur, wellness advocate, and brand strategy coach for creatives & entrepreneurs with 16 years of public relations expertise working with some of the world’s leading brands, startups, media personalities, and entertainers. If you would like to work together, don’t hesitate to reach out!