13th April 2012
The power of collaboration – the new business trend
A new business movement is emerging that has the potential to completely transform the way we do business. It’s called collaborative consumption and it’s reducing the need for businesses to own their own capital equipment, potentially saving many enterprises tens of thousands of dollars or more and also giving many the chance to earn extra income from their existing assets.
Here’s how it works.
A host of new online communities and web sites are springing up to allow people and businesses to rent and share their equipment, for a small fee.
The most well known example of collaborative consumption is the many different car sharing outfits that has sprung up over the last five or ten years. These enterprises give consumers and businesses the ability to rent cars on a short-term basis, rather than them having to own their own vehicle.
Goes both ways
But collaborative consumption works the other way as well – businesses can use this model to rent their own business equipment when they are not using it.
“Most business owners are currently overlooking the renting potential of their business equipment. At Open Shed we believe renting out the equipment you own, when you are not using it, creates a number of opportunities for you. It can reduce your operating costs, help you establish relationships with other businesses and customers, reduce waste and keep money in your local area,” says Lisa Fox, director and co-founder of Open Shed.
Open Shed is business based on the collaborative consumption model. Through its web site businesses and individuals can rent anything from computers to desks and office furniture to marquees for office functions.
Lisa says there are landscaping businesses and builders who list their equipment on her site, after deciding it is cheaper to own it rather than rent it from places like Kennards. Examples of businesses on Open Shed that take this approach include Rotary Hoe and Vibrating Plate.
Another example of a business that is generating extra revenue by listing its equipment on the site is 44gallons.com, which has listed a number of laptops the business uses for hands on training workshops in social media. When the laptops are not being used in training they are available to rent through the site.
According to Fox, other common requests by businesses that use the site include projectors, projector screens and PA equipment, which people often need for a one-off event.
Collaborative consumption is an idea that gained real traction with the release of Rachel Botsman’s book, What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption. Since then it has been named by Time magazine as one of the ten ideas that will change the world and has become the central philosophy behind businesses such as Airbnb, a site that allows people to rent extra bedrooms in their homes to travellers, as well as Parkatmyhouse.com, which as the name suggests, is a site where people can access unused parking spots.
It’s no doubt in today’s world, where effective use of resources is becoming more and more important, collaboration will become an increasingly relevant trend.