The Sharing Economy: Back to Fundamentals

sharingeconomyInfotec 2015 was packed full of insightful information covering everything from IT infrastructure to marketing to new innovations in the industry. One noted trend that covered various levels of the tech industry was that of the “sharing economy.”

Taking it back to fundamentals

Remember when you were a child and you gave your friend a toy in return for something of theirs you desperately wanted? While your parents may have seen this as sharing, what you were actually doing was bartering and trading. Your friend may have had something that you saw valuable and you made a deal to trade assets for the time being. Smart kid.

It appears in the modern age of technology, that we may be returning to fundamental trading and bartering. And, reviews are mixed as to whether the route we are on is positive or negative. On one hand, some see this as an opportunity to downsize major corporations and give a hand to smaller business owners who have made the sharing economy what it is today. Others view this as a major disruption to the economic system to which we have grown accustomed.

So, what is the sharing economy exactly?

The sharing economy is an economic model in which individuals or businesses buy or rent assets from others in order to circumvent having to make a direct purchase. Nowadays, the most prevalent example is happening online every day. TechCrunch recently published an article titled The sharing economy Is On The Brink Of Disrupting Business Travel discussing the disruptive shift that the sharing economy is placing on hotel chains and vehicle rental companies. With the rise of peer-to-peer services like Uber and Airbnb, traditional companies are seeing a major disruption in business.

However, the travel industry is far from the only industry that is taking a hit with the uproar of the sharing economy. With so many retailers going online and mobile, and with wholesalers selling the goods of traditional retailers for a lower price, corporations are struggling to keep up.

The sharing economy and the workforce

The latest shifts in workforce trends stress autonomy and flexibility. And, that is exactly what the sharing economy provides. As the Wall Street Journal asserts that “The sharing economy is empowering millions of people to unlock the value of their time, skills and talents to make money in ways and on a scale never possible before” by providing a-typical job opportunities. From job seekers looking for hyper-flexible employment to full-time employees looking to make additional side income and stay at home parents, students, and the disabled workers hoping to work-from-home or find a more autonomous and flexible way to make money, the sharing economy job market looks promising.

A company that operates on a significantly small scale with five employees or less is known as a micropreneurial company. Much like entrepreneurs, micropreneurs take on a particular amount of risk when starting a company. While the autonomy and flexibility of the sharing economy offer exciting opportunities, there are significant risks at stake for those who aim to earn their income through the new sharing economy workforce. These risks include, but are not limited to, low wages, income stability, and failure to thrive.

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