Business guides

How to Make a Living through the Sharing Economy

ooking for ways to make cash outside of the regular workplace is not a new concept: taking in a lodger, doing a neighbour’s garden, or walking their dog are just a few examples of the many informal methods people use to boost their finances. What has changed is the way that these things are labelled, and the growth in more structured ways to access them, either as a provider or a buyer.

The modern term ’sharing economy’ refers to a wide variety of opportunities which allow people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to capitalise on the benefits of self-employment, such as flexible schedules and workloads, without any significant investment or business plans. This is a particularly exciting development for those with disabilities, as many strands of the sharing economy are accessible to them.

Sharing economy initiatives come in many shapes and forms, and despite the name, many do actually involve payment. Here we look closer at five of the most popular sharing economy platforms.

1. Uber

Uber is sometimes likened to a citizen’s taxi service, as anyone with a standard driving licence can apply to work through them. A private hire licence is required, but successful candidates are guided through the process and Uber will even arrange car leasing if you have no vehicle to use. This work differs from regular taxi driving in several ways, as no direct cash handling of fares is involved (Uber take care of all that online) and drivers set their own schedules and can accept or refuse work offered.

2. Airbnb

Airbnb act as an agent between those with space to let to short-term guests and those looking to utilise it. If you have a spare room or an entire property to offer to guests you can probably make some extra income. You set the parameters on who can request to stay, and when.

3. Your Parking Space

If you have a garage, lock up or driveway you don’t use this is a good opportunity to make cash from it. The most lucrative areas are those with a shortage of parking spaces, lots of parking

restrictions, or locations close to a major transport hub or leisure attraction. It’s free to register with YourParkingSpace, and as the company takes care of bookings, it’s an easy way to make cash with little effort.

4. Task Rabbit

The London-based section of this American business trades odd job skills for cash. People are willing to pay for one-time services through TaskRabbit such as flatpack assembly, cleaning, or delivering a package. Again, the major advantage is the flexible schedule and the option to pick and choose what you do, plus the hourly rate for carrying out tasks is much higher than you might expect.

5. Echo

Echo (‘economy of hours’) helps people in East London trade skills and services. This is pure sharing, as one hour of your time buys one hour of someone else’s. It’s a good way to get help with something as and when it is needed, and to capitalise on your hidden talents.

The sharing economy offers various exciting opportunities for people to make some extra cash, or even develop a new business based on skills and interests rather than their level of ability versus disability.

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