Fast Money: Make Start-Up Bucks By Sharing Your Gear

share economy
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Your car. Your room. Your power saw. In the new “sharing economy” they’re all potential cash cows. Or at least cash bunnies.

Also known as the “peer-to-peer economy,” the concept is simple: earn money by sharing your resources and skills.

Technology has turbo-charged the ability to hock your wares and sell your labor to the masses. Gone are the days of making classified ads and hanging flyers; today it’s all about apps

But before you decide to rent out your roller skates for a little bit of spending money, here are some pros,cons and tips for the peer-to-peer economy game.

AIRBNB:

One of the biggest, and most controversial of the share economy outlets. Whatever your opinion, keep the following in mind.

Use it like a boss:

  • Take advantage of Airbnb’s free photography service. Not only will they send a professional photographer to make your place look its best, they’ll tag these photos as “verified” so users will feel reassured what they see is what they get.
  • Ask for recommendations. Leave a note on a pillow asking your guest to leave a review if they’ve enjoyed their stay.
  • Start out as a bargain, then raise your rates. You can snag those first guests by underselling the competition.

But be aware:

  • Congratulations! You’ve been evicted! No landlord gets excited about someone else making money on the property he or she owns. Get permission before you list your rental or get hunting for a new place.
  • In some cities, renting out your entire apartment is illegal. Multiple cities are tightening regulations, including requiring the renter be present during guests’ stays.
  • You can take your cell with you, but a landline is there for the abusing–talk to the phone company about blocking the ability to make long-distance calls.
  • While you may have no problem with people coming and going, the family across the hall from you might–be sure to check with neighbors before renting your pad.
  • Theft, orgies, and guests that legally don’t have to leave? Yup–these are rare AirBnB nightmares, but they’ve all happened.

Bottom line: Just because you know people who are doing it, doesn’t mean you won’t run into trouble. Do your research.

UBER & LYFT

Explore your inner cabbie by charging people for a chauffeured ride.

Use it like a boss:

  • Trying to avoid the family this Thanksgiving? Tell ‘em you have to work on turkey day. Holidays are peak times for reservations and drivers can charge the highest fares.
  • People in town for conventions and events are often without cars – check calendars for schedules at local convention centers and stadiums.
  • Uber will give you $250 if you recruit a driver who completes at least ten rides!

Be aware:

  • Reservation, cancellation, repeat. Sound familiar? Expect a lot of fares to back out.
  • Happily, many people are using Uber instead of driving home buzzed. Which also means you should prepare to deal with drunk couples groping each other in the back seat.
  • Being alone in a car with a stranger isn’t necessarily dangerous, but you don’t know if you’ll be picking up Conan O’Brian or picking up Sir Creepy McStalkerson. Never accept a fare to a dangerous or remote location.

Bottom line: Consider vehicle wear-and-tear, gas prices, and the return-trip time before signing up. But if you’re driving a lot already, Uber and Lyft can be a quick cash source.

TASKRABBIT

Perfect for the Ikea assembly ninja, this site lets you charge for tasks posted by locals.

Use it like a boss:

  • Don’t undersell yourself. Unlike Airbnb where people can see what they’re paying for, you have to communicate your intangible value. Consumers often associate cheap prices with poor quality.
  • Include links to websites or professional profiles you already have online, such as LinkedIn.
  • Use a “specialized” photo. If you’re offering website design, take a selfie in front of a computer. Running errands? Try posting a snap with you on your bike.

Be aware:

  • TaskRabbit has changed their model. You now have to list your hourly rates and the company sends the poster a list of suggested users.
  • You only have 30 minutes to respond to a request.
  • TaskRabbit charges clients a big mark-up. Customers often think you’re getting that money and expect you to do more work than posted.
  • Though rare, there are indeed horror stories such as the “four loads of laundry” that was actually ten cat-poop covered loads of towels.

Bottom line: Though the new TaskRabbit has reduced the amount of flexibility taskers have in choosing gigs, it’s still the most popular place to find done-in-a-day work.

None of these options likely to make you retire-at-30 rich, so manage your revenue expectations. But for an entrepreneur looking to scrape up some cash for her start-up, you could do worse.

 

Other options:

DogVacay – Airbnb for dogs

RelayRides – rent out your car

Spinlister – rent out your bike and sporting equipment

NeighborGoods – share your tools and appliances for cash

Park At My House – charge folks to park at your house.

Snapgoods – rent your camping equipment

Vayable – create a neighborhood tour and be a guide

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