How SMEs can cash in on sharing economy

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By Tim Slater

In a climate in which some UK SMEs feel ‘misunderstood’ by the present government, many are looking to improvise new ways of generating income. The good news for SMEs is that as the sharing economy grows, it’s opening up more and more ways for small businesses and startups to monetise their assets for extra income. Does your business own a spare MacBook or video projector? Do you have an unused parking space, or power tools taking up valuable cupboard-storage real estate? If so, you may be missing out on a significant passive income.

Rent Your Stuff

Fat Lama is a marketplace which allows you to monetise your spare equipment by listing it for rental. It offers insurance of up to £25,000 per item in case of damage or non-return. Its users are a combination of individuals and companies who are either looking to earn spare cash from their underused items or find cheap access to what they need to hire themselves. Lenders on the platform are earning anything from £50 to £3,700 a month.

An increasing number of Fat Lama’s users are freelancers or SME owners who are looking to maximise returns on their assets or even finance further investments. According to Fat Lama, businesses are renting out equipment which they’ve previously invested in, but which isn’t in constant use. Many freelancers and creative agencies are renting their spare DSLRs or film equipment, as well as video projectors, which can fetch £30/day. Music studios are earning spare cash by loaning out spare PA speakers, drum kits and amps, whilst events managers have cheap access to smoke machines and lighting rigs. The website is also connecting skilled labourers to rent circular saws, drills and other power tools peer-to-peer.

Rent Your Parking Space

With apps like JustPark at your fingertips, it’s not just your company’s idle ‘equipment’ which you can rent for extra income: your underused parking space can also be maximised as an asset. Over 20,000 people are renting out their own spaces throughout the UK – both personal driveways and office parking spaces. The average annual earnings of a regular driveway renter are apparently around £1000, but if you own a space in Central London or another major city, you could be in line for over £3,000 a year.

Rent Your Spare Desk

Perhaps your business has vacant desk spaces or a meeting room? Many SMEs are putting theirs to use by renting them out via desk space marketplace Hubble. It’s little surprise that in prime locations, filling your spare desks could earn you £4,000 per month. Even if you work from home yourself, you can list the spare rooms in your house as meeting/workspaces on Vrumi.

Discussion of the sharing economy often ends at its poster children: Airbnb, Uber and the like. However, researching beyond these into how and where you can monetise other assets of your business could be time very well spent. As technology has advanced and more effective ID-verification procedures have been employed, the convenience and safety of peer-to-peer renting has increased tenfold. As these barriers to rental marketplaces fall away, savvy businesses are taking advantage of new potential to monetise their equipment or space. Are you doing the same?

Picture: Christopher Gower on Unsplash.com