Implications for entrepreneurs
For new businesses, the sharing economy presents tremendous opportunities, especially for those looking to start an online business (See our other course: Online Business Success on starting an online business).
Although starting any business is challenging, an online business is relatively less capital-intensive and presents an opportunity to reach a global audience at the click of a button. The sharing economy provides a useful business model for such an online business, whether using a business-to-consumer access or peer-to-peer access.
In fact, just like existing businesses, people thinking of starting a new business must consider if they will use the sharing economy model. If not, they must also consider if and how competitors using the sharing economy will impact their success and profitability. These days most businesses have an online presence—including websites, social media accounts and blogs. But having an online presence is not the same as being in the sharing economy.
To be in the sharing economy, a business must set its model to either focus on giving consumers access to business-owned products or create a platform that facilitates peer-to-peer exchange and collaborative consumption. As we have shown variously throughout this course, the benefits are immense—low setup, entry barrier and labour costs, higher sales turnover and value co-creation with customers. But this also means the new business must consider issues of equitable access, consumer and/or worker rights as well as existing regulations pertaining to doing business online.
In the next section you will have the opportunity to think about starting your own business in the sharing economy. Try and apply your learnings from the course.
Reflect on the possibility of starting an online business based on the sharing economy model. Using your learnings from the course, ask yourself:
- What market problem will my business solve?
- Who will my competitors be (if any) and how will I differentiate my offering from theirs?
- How will my platform be different from existing sharing economy platforms?
- What will the benefits and challenges be of my online business?
- Can I come up with ideas based on my learning to address those challenges?
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