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Ask the Entrepreneurs: 11 Noteworthy Businesses Monetizing the Shared Economy

Ask the Entrepreneurs: 11 Noteworthy Businesses Monetizing the Shared Economy

Ask The Entrepreneurs is a regular series where members of those involved in the Young Entrepreneur Council are asked a single question that aims to help Lifehack readers level up their own lives, whether in a area of management, communication, business or life in general.

Here’s the question posed in this edition of Ask The Entrepreneurs:

Shared economy is big business. Name one sharing service that’s catching a buzz among your fellow business owners for making life easier.

1. SittingAround for Mompreneurs

    Babysitting coops is a concept that many mompreneurs find interesting in the early stages of startup when you can’t justify paying a babysitter or nanny, but you also can’t justify not. Sharing the responsibility with other trusted parents is a great way to work around the expense of childcare while building your business. Services like SittingAround makes it easier to manage!

    Jennifer Donogh, Young Female Entrepreneurs

    2. Soar With SurfAir

      SurfAir

      is getting a lot of buzz, despite not having launched or owning any planes yet. The concept is simple — “all you can fly” short-haul routes on small, private planes for a flat monthly fee, without all the hassles of big airports or the TSA. I’m hoping they succeed; it’s a great and very disruptive idea.
      Matt Mickiewicz, Flippa and 99designs

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      3. Exec Offers Assistant

        Exec

        , a new startup, allows you to hire an assistant for $25 per hour. A few of my startup friends use the service when they need to quickly increase temporary staff (i.e. during a big sales day). Another uses Exec staff to run personal errands, thereby freeing up the entrepreneur’s time to run her business. Sharing an hourly assistant provides incredible flexibility for startups.

        Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches

        4. Carpool Through Ridejoy

          Collaborative consumption meets carpooling with Ridejoy, an awesome service that helps you find and share rides with friendly people across the country. Sounds scary, maybe, but it disrupts a market that too many people trust to Craigslist and opens up an entirely new one.

          Derek Flanzraich, Greatist

          5. TaskRabbit Gets It Done

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            TaskRabbit

            , the site that helps you get tasks done efficiently, is part of the collaborative consumption economy. Anyone can post a task that needs completion, and other people on the platform can bid to complete the task. Whether someone needs a courier, an editor, or someone to help set up IKEA furniture for the office, TaskRabbit is used a lot by business owners.

            Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.

            6. Overnight With Airbnb

              Business owners today are more mobile than ever, and sometimes we feel like we don’t have a home when going from hotel to hotel. Airbnb still allows us to stay in a home in the cities we’re traveling to and do it for rates that often trump the best deals you can get in a hotel. In the next few months, I’ll be in NYC a lot, and I’ll use Airbnb and the reviews there to locate where I’ll stay.

              Shaun King, HopeMob

              7. Coworking With Regus

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                Shared office space is great for small business owners who don’t have the money for an actual office, or for those who simply don’t need one. I used a shared space via Regus for several meetings with local clients. Also, sharing office space can provide you with a professional network, as you work side-by-side with like-minded individuals.

                Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

                8. Settle Down via DeskWanted

                  DeskWanted

                  helps you find coworking spaces all around the world, which is fantastic for us entrepreneurs who are always en route. It helps you find coworking spaces that you can work at for the day, or meeting spaces to meet with clients or partners in the city you’re in.

                  Natalie MacNeil, She Takes on the World

                  9. Drive Anywhere Wtih Zipcar

                    Owning a car can be expensive for an entrepreneur trying to save money and stay lean. With Zipcar, I don’t have to worry about parking, gas, insurance, or maintenance! I can get to all my meetings and save money!

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                    Bhavin Parikh, Magoosh Test Prep

                    10. SnapGoods for Gadgets

                      SnapGoods

                      allows you to easy and safely rent/borrow gear or gadgets for as short as a day. It’s a great way to try out a product before buying it or rent a bike for the day.

                      Josh Weiss, Bluegala

                      11. Hire Help Through Zirtual

                        My Zirtual assistant saves me a ton of time each day. Given the excess demand for the service, you can’t sign up unless a current client invites you. If you message me, I’ll gladly help!

                        Kevon Saber, Fig

                         

                        (Photo credit: US Dollars with Coins in Front via Shutterstock)

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                        Last Updated on August 20, 2019

                        How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

                        How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

                        Finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. And that’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

                        In this article, we will explore ways on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

                        5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

                        Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task but if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps:

                        1. Be Clear About the Objectives

                        Any goal (let alone financial) without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream. And this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

                        It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it is for. It could be anything like kid’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car etc.

                        Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

                        2. Keep Them Realistic

                        It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

                        It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

                        3. Account for Inflation

                        Ronald Reagan once said – “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

                        Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

                        For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

                        4. Short Term vs Long Term

                        Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach towards achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It is important to bifurcate goals in short term and long term.

                        As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as short term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short term vs long term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

                        More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

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                        5. To Each to His Own

                        The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

                        It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

                        By now, you would be ready with your financial goals, now it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

                        11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

                        Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 step process –

                        • Ensuring healthy savings
                        • Making smart investments

                        You will need to save enough; and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

                        Ensuring Healthy Savings

                        Self realization is the best form of realisation and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

                        This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

                        1. Track Expenses

                        The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

                        Also categorize those expenses into different bucket so that you know which bucket is eating the most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pump up your savings rate.

                        2. Pay Yourself First

                        Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

                        Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and then manage all the expenses from the rest.

                        The best way to actually implement is to put the savings on automatic mode i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (for example – mutual funds, retirement corpus etc) every month.

                        Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

                        3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

                        Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

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                        Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

                        At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

                        Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

                        You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

                        4. Rise Again Even If You Fall

                        Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

                        If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

                        Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

                        All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

                        5. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

                        In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

                        Make Savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

                        Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

                        If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

                        If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

                        So the key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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                        6. Talk About It

                        Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

                        Therefore in order to stay the course, it is advisable that you keep yourself surrounded with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

                        7. Maintain a Journal

                        For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

                        So if you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

                        Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

                        When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energised to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot more easier for you to follow you and track your progress.

                        At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

                        Making Smart Investments

                        Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

                        8. Consult a Financial Advisor

                        Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is wise to consult a financial advisor.

                        Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

                        9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

                        Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

                        Just like “no one is born a criminal”, no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference.

                        Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

                        It is here where that classification will help.

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                        So as a general rule, for all your short term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less as compared to equity instruments.

                        10. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

                        Einstein once remarked about compounding,

                        Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.

                        So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

                        Start investing early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

                        11. Measure, Measure, Measure

                        All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

                        If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

                        If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

                        Do measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

                        The Bottom Line

                        This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

                        As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

                        More About Personal Finance Management

                        Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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