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Important Things to Know About the Revolutionary “Share Economy”

Important Things to Know About the Revolutionary “Share Economy”

When we were kids, one of the first lessons we learned was to share. In a world where business is under increased pressure to be more socially responsible, easier on the environment and take a more active role in social issues, some businesses are getting the message.

The share economy is made up of companies like Airbnb, Elance, VerbalizeIt, Mechanical Turk, co-working spaces and numerous other services that unite those who have available goods and services with the people who need access to them.

The “share economy” is changing the way people access the resources they need. But it’s not all rainbows and puppies, there are downsides. If you are already participating in the new sharing economy or considering it, you need to know these nine things.

1. It requires companies to make better products

When a product is shared by a large number of people instead of just one person or family, a different level of quality is required. It gets passed around more and is subjected to more wear and tear. Cheap, throw-away products are no longer acceptable.

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2. It’s better for the environment

When you aren’t using something you own, you can share it instead of throwing it away. This saves natural resources. For example, we don’t have to manufacture a whole bicycle for each person who uses a bicycle only occasionally. They can use bike sharing to get access to a bike only when they want it.

3. It destroys jobs

St. Louis cab driver and ride-sharing critic Umar Lee, believes that car sharing facilitated by companies like Uber and Lyft hurts people by taking away their jobs. He says:

Driving a cab in St. Louis is a job that has allowed drivers to buy homes, raise families and send their children to college. Its not a plaything for me. I work six or seven days a week on this job (usually 10-12 hours a day) and that’s the money I use to support my children and pay my bills.

4. You can own less

The share economy lets you have access to things instead of owning them. If you want to use something, you don’t need to own it because access is an option. This saves money and resources and gives you the ability to have richer life experiences because the cost of access is reduced.

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5. It’s hard to regulate

In the traditional economy, regulation by the government is how we ensure safety and quality. When the parties providing and receiving the goods and services are distributed individuals, it becomes difficult to regulate. According to Jeremiah Owyang, share economy expert and founder of Crowd Companies, it’s also difficult to stop:

This is powered on mobile and social; the only way you can stop this tech-based movement is to stop the Internet.

The share economy depends on reputation instead of regulation.

6. It brings economic opportunity to everyone

Those who do not have the means to start a business or job opportunities available to them can make money by sharing their skills. Ryan Frankel, share economy enthusiast and co-founder of VerbalizeIt says:

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The shared economy model allows us to disrupt a traditionally broken translation industry, be a driving force for business internationalization and create job opportunities around the globe for those with a proven and tested skill-set.

7. Company growth is driven by reuse

In the legacy economy, company growth came from selling more products. Growth meant getting more people to consume more goods. Companies that facilitate the share economy grow when their customers share more of what they already have.

8. It’s harder to tax

It’s easy to tax hotels, cab companies and industries dominated by large companies, but when the service providers become distributed, as they necessarily do in the share economy, it gets messier, but not impossible. However, San Francisco recently reached an agreement with Airbnb to collect taxes on rentals in the city.

9. It helps people get access to resources they need

Resources that were previously inaccessible due to a higher cost of owning or purchasing them can made be more accessible. For example, entrepreneurs, who would have previously been limited to working out of a spare bedroom, can get access to workspace in a collaborative environment. Jason Deem, founder of Nebula Coworking, says:

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Coworking encourages innovation and experimentation by fostering a collaborative community of entrepreneurs who benefit from the diversity of skills and connections in the coworking environment. It also minimizes the risk of starting a new business by keeping costs low through the use of shared resources.

How to start participating in the share economy

You may find that you can benefit from both being a consumer and provider of shared resources. Begin by looking at things you own, but don’t use as much as you could. Start with your most expensive assets, such as your house, car, boat or other large, expensive items. Then research your options for sharing those things and making some money doing it.

Next, look at resources that you use. Think in terms of access instead of ownership. Research and understand your options for getting access to those things you want instead of owning them. You may find that you would be better off getting rid of things you own and accessing them instead. Or you may find that you can get access to things, like a boat via Boatbound, that you previously thought were inaccessible.

You’ll get the most benefit by participating on both sides of the sharing economy (consuming shared resources and sharing your unused resources). You might find that you can get access to more of the things you want and spend less money.

Give it a shot, it’s the future, so you might as well see if it will help you, right?

Featured photo credit: Ted Manasa via facebook.com

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Published on March 20, 2019

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

Have you ever felt lost in the minutia of your job?

As a business owner, I can relate to getting bogged down in the day to day operations of my business. Things like inventory, payroll, scheduling, purchasing and employee management take up the bulk of my day.

While these things are important and need to get done, focusing too much on the details can make you lose sight of the big picture. This is why having a good mission statement comes in handy.

What is a Mission Statement?

Put simply, a mission statement is an internal document that provides a clear purpose for the organization. It provides a common reference point for everyone in the organization to start from.

In other words, after reading your company’s mission statement, managers and employees should be able to answer the question “What are company’s main objectives?” For example, Southwest Airlines mission statement reads:[1]

“Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.”

In this single statement, Southwest conveys the company’s goals of providing the highest level of customer service as well as providing a good working environment for their employees.

Mission Statement VS. Vision Statement

While the mission and vision statements are related, there are subtle but distinct differences the you should be aware of.

First of all, a mission statement is designed primarily as an internal company document. It provides clarity and direction for managers and employees.

While there’s nothing wrong with sharing your company’s mission statement with the outside world, its intended audience is within the company.

While a mission statement provides a general framework for the organization, the vision statement is usually a more inspirational statement designed to motivate employees and inspire customers. Going back to Southwest Airlines, their vision statement reads:[2]

“To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.”

This statement inspires good feeling from the customer while motivating the employees to achieve that vision.

What Does a Good Mission Statement Look Like?

When coming up with a mission statement, it’s important to take your time and do it right. Too often, people (especially entrepreneurs) just write down the first thing that comes to mind and they end up with worthless or (worse yet) a generic mission statement that is utterly useless.

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Remember, a mission statement should provide a common framework for everyone in your organization.

When writing a mission statement, you should always try to incorporate the following;

  • What we do?
  • How we do it?
  • Whom do we do it for?
  • What value are we bringing?

Now, you can see how tempting it is to just come up with something generic that ticks off those four boxes. Something like “We provide the best widgets available online for the consumer.”

After all, that did check off all the boxes:

What we do? Provide widgets.

How we do it? Online.

Who do we do it for? The consumer.

What value we bring? The best widgets.

The problem with this mission statement is that it could apply to any number of companies producing the same widget. There is nothing to distinguish your company or its widgets from any of your competitors widgets.

Compare that mission statement to this one:

“We provide the highest quality widgets directly to the consumer at an affordable price backed up with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If our clients aren’t 100% satisfied, we’ll make it right.”

What’s the difference?

Both mission statements answer all the same questions of what, how, whom and value. But in the second statement, they are differentiating their company from all other competitors by answering the question “what makes us unique”.

Another way to read that is, “Why you should buy from us.” In this example, it’s because our widgets are of the highest quality and we stand behind them 100%.

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You might have noticed the statement didn’t say that we sell widgets at the lowest possible price. That’s because we are emphasizing quality and satisfaction over price.

A different company’s mission statement may emphasize selling widgets at the lowest possible price with little to no mention of a guarantee.

Hallmarks of a Good Mission Statement

1. Keep It Brief

Your mission statement should be no longer than three sentences. This is not your company’s magnum opus.

You should be able to distill the what, how, who and why questions into a succinct message.

2. Have a Purpose

A company’s missions statement should include the reason it even exists.

Make clear exactly what the company does with statements like “We strive to provide our customers with …….”

3. Include a “How”

Take this as an opportunity to differentiate your company from its competitors.

How do you provide a product or service that’s different or better than how your competitor provides it?

4. Talk About the Value You Bring to the Table

This is where you can really set yourself apart from the competition. This is the “why” customers should buy from you.

Do you offer the lowest prices? Fastest delivery? Exceptional customer service? Whatever it is that sets you apart and gives your particular products, services or company an advantage talk about it in the mission statement.

5. Make Sure It’s Plausible

It’s okay to shoot for the stars just to settle for the moon, but not in a mission statement.

Being overly ambitious will only set you and your employees up for failure, hurt morale and make you lose credibility. You will also scare away potential investors if they think that you are not being realistic in your mission statement.

6. Make It Unique and Distinctive

Imagine if someone who knew nothing about your business walked in and saw how it was operating, then they read your mission statement. Would they be able to recognize that mission statement was attached to that business? If not re-work it.

7. Think Long Term

A mission statement should be narrow enough so that it provides a common framework for the existing business, but open enough to allow for longer term goals. It should be able to grow as the business grows.

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8. Get Feedback

This is very important, especially from managers and employees.

Getting their input can clarify how they currently see the company and their role within the organization. It’s also a good way to get people “on-board,” as studies show that people are more likely to go along with an idea if they feel included in the decision making process beforehand.

9. Review Often and Revise as Necessary

You should review the missions statement often for two reasons.

First, as a reminder of what the essence of the company is. It’s easy to forget when you are in the day to day grind of the business.

And two, to make sure that the mission statement is still relevant. Things change, and not everything can be anticipated at the time a mission statement was written.

For example, if a mission statement was written before the advent of the internet, a company that use to sell things door to door now probably has a website that people order from. You should always update the mission statement to reflect these changes.

The Value of Mission Statements: Why Go Through All of These in the First Place?

It may seem like a lot of work just for a few sentences that describe a company, but the value of a well written mission statement should not be discounted.

First of all, if you are an entrepreneur, crystallizing the what, how, whom and value questions will keep you focused on the core business and its values.

If you are a manager or other employee, knowing the company’s basic tenants will help inform your interactions with both customers and colleagues alike.

Strategic Planning

A relevant mission statement acts as a framework for strategic planning. It provides guidance and parameters for making strategic decisions for the future of the company.

Measuring Performance

By having the company’s mission in a concrete form, it also allows for an objective measurement of how well the organization is meeting its stated goals at any one time.

Management can identify strengths and weaknesses in the organization based on the criteria set forth in the mission statement and make decisions accordingly.

Solidifying the Company’s Goals and Values for Employees

Part of a well run organization is nurturing happy and productive employees.

As humans, we all have an innate need for both purpose and to be part of something larger than ourselves. Providing employees with a clearly defined mission statement helps to define their role in the larger organization. Thus, fulfilling both of these needs.

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Now I’m not saying that a mission statement can overcome low pay and poor working conditions, but with everything else being equal, it can contribute to a happier and more productive workforce.

To Hold Management Accountable

By creating a mission statement, a company is publicly stating its highest values and goals for the world to see. By doing so, you are inviting both the public and your employees to to scrutinize how well the company lives up to its ideals.

So if you state that you only provide the highest quality products, and then offer something less, it’s fair for both the public and the employees to question, and even call for a change in management.

If management doesn’t take the mission statement seriously, no one else will either; and the legitimate authority that management rely’s on will be diminished.

To Serve as an Example

This is the opposite side of the coin from the previous statement. If the highest levels of management are seen taking the mission statement seriously and actively managing within the framework of the statement, that attitude filters down throughout the organization.

After all, a good employee knows what’s important to their boss and will take the steps necessary to curry favor with them.

Finally, use the company’s mission statement as a way to define roles within the company. You can do this by giving each division in the company a copy of the mission statement and challenge the head of each division to create a mission statement for their respective departments.

Their individual mission statements should focus on how each department fits in and ultimately contributes to the success of the company’s overall mission statement. This serves as both a clarifying and a team building exercise for all parts of the organization.

Final Thoughts

Developing a mission statement is too often just an after-thought, especially for entrepreneurs. We tend to prioritize things that we perceive will give us the biggest “bang for our buck.”

Somehow, taking the time and effort to sit down and think seriously about the what, whom, how and value of our business seems like a waste of time. After all, we got in the business to make money and become successful, isn’t that all we need to know?

That mindset will probably get you started okay, but if you find yourself having any success at all, you’ll find that there really is such a thing as growing pains.

By putting in the time and effort to create a mission statement, you are laying the groundwork that will give you a path to follow in your growth. And isn’t building long term success what we are really after?

More Resources About Achieving Business Success

Featured photo credit: Fab Lentz via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Southwest Airlines: About Page
[2] Fit Small Business: 10 Vision Statement Examples To Spark Your Imagination

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