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‘Sharing’ is the new business opportunity.

People often ask me ‘what is the next big thing?’ Occasionally one get’s an insight into what the world ‘might be like’.

Here are some things we know:

  1. There is an anti ‘stuff’ movement – not only can we not store everything we own (we live in smaller spaces in cities – and self storage is one of the fastest growing industries) but we are increasingly concerned about the cost to the planet of manufacturing, transporting, storing, then disposing of all this stuff.
  2. That social networks are revolutionizing media…
  3. That smart phones are outselling PC/Laptops
  4. That people like a deal
  5. That people want to trust and believe in brands
  6. There is an increasing desire to do contribute to community and for people to feel connected to those people around them. (an increase in farmers markets for instance.)

Put these six things together and there is a perfect business revolution taking place.

Rachel Bolsman in her book ‘What’s mine is yours’  calls the phenomena ‘Collaborative Consumption’ – or the ‘Sharing Revolution’

There have been four phases distinct phases as business models evolve to get us to this collaborative consumption era:

  • We connected to share information (open source)
  • We connected to people we know (social networks)
  • We shared our thoughts and published them (blogs/twitter)
  • We connected to share and access to assets.

Apparently in the average life on a power drill it is only used for 13 minutes. Does every man need to have one in his tool shed (or does he just need a hole drilled)… Matt my colleague said that I was missing the point about men and power tools when I mentioned this to him.

So how can we share assets – or utilize what we already have to increase it’s return. The internet has created a true enabler – that is efficient, and that provides the scale needed to make such collaborative consumption work.

There is a shift where access trumps ownership.

There are four interesting business models.

  1. Collaborative Lifestyles: Social networking becomes service networking – have a look at
  2. Micropreneurs: EBay is the ‘Big Daddy’ of this but also think
  3. I need – You have: Is about redistribution (back to the idea of swapping, bartering, trading, gifting) think 99dresses
  4. Products become services: If BMW were to offer mobility solutions rather than sell more cars –It is worth looking at what is doing

Interesting it might take a radical shift of thought to move to these collaborative business models especially for existing businesses – such as manufacturers turning themselves into services.

Business is fascinating – Thanks Rachel for ‘Sharing’ your insights.

Reader Interactions


  1. I fully agree that the sharing economy has a huge potential which can be unleashed if it is combined with social networks such as Facebook or twitter.

    This is why I recommend websites such as which enable you to share what you own with your Facebook friends. It’s worth giving it a go.

  2. I was thrilled to see Rachel Botsman’s presentation last week at KBB. I have been circling around ideas like this for a couple of months – but not really believing. Having seen Rachel on Thursday I don’t think I will ever see the world of commerce/community in the same way again – I feel like my brain has been rewired. I am determined to be one of Australia’s business leaders that helps light the way.

  3. Thanks Naomi for some great insights into new business opportunities being created out of an underlying social change we’re experiencing. One other idea I would like to throw into the mix is a service industry that has developed around all of the open social platforms we use to do so many things today. Where there are platforms and marketplaces, there are, sadly, opportunities for unsavoury behaviour and, in the worst case, fraud. Certainly businesses like Ebay, AirBnB and invest heavily in techniques to identify and prevent this, but the industry of moderation and community management is rising to meet these challenges with a mix of human and software solutions to make most efficient use of the respective strengths of man and machine in addressing these challenges.

    Any discussion of new business opportunities around sharing must include the business that makes that sharing safe and comfortable for all participants.

  4. Thanks Naomi – very insightful and it is exciting to think about what the future will hold for us. I particularly like the idea of 99 dresses and how they have invented their own online currency – buttons – to trade fasion. It is amazing the innovation that is possible online!

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