The sharing economy covers more than car-sharing or renting out a home while on holiday. It is also making an impact on traditional businesses. In times of lower activity, companies are finding it easier than ever to get value out of their underused assets like business premises or a van.
Driven by a growing number of apps and schemes which enable instant connections between those with something to offer and those who wish to be customers, the sharing economy points the way to how you can leverage underused assets in your business.
The sharing economy: paying for usage rather than ownership
Once the idea that ownership doesn’t have to limit usage by others took hold, it quickly became apparent to people and small businesses alike that underused assets can be a source of extra income. From unused rooms and garages to household equipment, the sharing economy, supported by peer-to-peer platforms, bypasses traditional transaction methods. At its core, this practice involves individuals exchanging money in return for usage, rather than outright purchase. The sharing concept now drives a growing part of the enterprise culture, and can cover everything from BBQs or mountain bikes to lawnmowers and fancy dress costumes.
Not only does this practice make it cheaper for people to access various equipment and goods, another argument in favour of the sharing economy is that it is a greener and more sustainable mode of consumption. A single asset can be used by more people, reducing the cost of its ownership as well as, ultimately, the need for manufacture.
Boosting your business by making the most of underused vans
This “domestic” framework is just as applicable to business assets, if not more so: after all, you most likely acquired your assets in order to earn money from them. When you are not using your parking space, your van or your landscaping equipment, this downtime represents an opportunity-cost relative to the expenses you incurred to own them in the first place.
Car-sharing is one of the earliest and most successful applications of the sharing economy, and the drive towards more efficient use of vehicles shows no sign of slowing down. Whether you own a fleet or just one van, there will always come a time when you are not making use of them. Why not get someone else to pay you for the privilege? Many platforms and apps specialise in these arrangements nowadays, and let you offer your van up for hire when it suits you. easyCar Club is one such service, which provides separate insurance to avoid compromising your own business cover.
Opportunities for extra income also arise during your time on the road. On city-to-city trips, or any long journey, ride-sharing platforms like GoCarShare or BlaBlaCar can let you fill an empty passenger seat to lower your travel costs.
Leveraging other underused assets in your business
If your business premises come with city parking spaces that are unused at regular times, for instance, you could make some extra income by renting them out on a parking app, such as ParkBee. The same goes for unused storage space, which could earn you rent from people looking for, e.g., furniture storage. If your business involves specialised equipment, chances are some people – professionals or not – would be willing to pay a daily rental rate for a power tool, precision instrument or extending ladder. The coworking trend offers some lessons here too: if you occupy a space which is lit, heated and covered by Wi-Fi, there could well be one or several like-minded entrepreneurs ready to pay to share the space and facilities. You could even find that your business benefits from shared knowledge too.
Keep track of your income sources for tax purposes
Whatever its origin, you must obviously remember to include any business income in your financial records and returns to HMRC. While governments around the world are trying to adapt to the sudden expansion of the sharing economy in all its forms, this kind of non-traditional income is still subject to regulatory uncertainty. Therefore, make sure to keep your records accurate. As far as your fleet vehicles go, if you have any concerns about the legality or feasibility of renting out your van, come and talk to your nearest Renault Pro+ advisor. It’s in our interests for your business to thrive and expand, so we could be looking at a win-win situation.