There are many exciting and potentially lucrative ways for would-be entrepreneurs to enter the small business world these days. Computer and communications technologies provide a degree of flexibility that wasn’t available to prospective small business owners just a few years ago.
One of the easiest ways to tap into new sources of business is via the sharing economy, an economic model sometimes referred to as the peer-to-peer economy, a model marked by providing or sharing access to products and services. Starting a business in the sharing economy can be as easy and convenient as owning your own home or your own vehicle. It’s about monetizing what you already own. Here’s some advice on making it work for you.
Know your niche
There’s a definite business common sense element to succeeding in the sharing economy. You need to find out whether there’s a synergy between supply and demand. For example, if you wanted to begin a pet sitting or dog walking service out of your home, your business may not be sustainable if you lack sufficient space or resources to accommodate enough dogs and/or cats. You’ll need to do a certain volume of business to turn an appreciable profit, so make sure you can provide enough service to meet demand in a business niche that’s grown significantly in recent years.
Person to person
As an entrepreneur in the sharing economy, your business could come from anywhere, at any time. As a dog walker, your neighbors, friends and family could comprise a substantial percentage of your business, so be sure to put a human face on your endeavor. It’s too easy to fall back on technology and assume that you can attract a clientele with a well-designed website and an aggressive social media presence. Do some chatting, handshaking and back slapping once in a while. People will remember you or it, especially these days. You have to be a tenacious and eager individual to make a small business work; those are qualities that will impress plenty of potential clients.
Those clients need to have a certain amount of trust in who you are and what you’re trying to accomplish. After all, they’re coming into your home as strangers or riding in your car at any hour of the day or night. Build trust in you and your business by maintaining a positive profile online and developing a good reputation from past clients who can prove to be one of your most valuable assets. High visibility is what it’s all about in the sharing economy, so make sure that people know who you are and that your business is well-liked enough to attract repeat business.
People appreciate a well-disciplined businessperson who’s not averse to taking a risk. Communicate those qualities through your self-marketing outreach efforts online and via Facebook and Instagram. If your customer experience is bad, word of mouth will make the rounds and customers will look elsewhere. Sometimes, it just takes one bad experience to undermine what you’re trying to achieve. Don’t try to do too much with your business. Taking an overly broad approach will detract from what you do best. Focus on excellent customer service in just one area.
Focus, self-discipline, tenacity, and enthusiasm are your best assets if you want to make a splash in the sharing economy. Market your successes and emphasize service with every customer interaction. That’s how you get good word of mouth.
Guest Post: Dean Burgess - Excitepreneur