THE BLOG

The Collaborative Economy - A Revolution in Real-Time

05/08/2014 13:34 BST | Updated 05/10/2014 10:59 BST

The revolution is here. But, unlike our predecessors, who witnessed mass changes in cultures via whispers in their community after the event, we're watching it unfold in front of our eyes. And what is it that's changing this time? Well, the very fundamentals of business strategy and commerce itself. Although instead of waiting to see what's happened, we're online and in the thick of it. Watching the revolution in real-time.

With the internet and supporting platforms... from Facebook to FourSquare, Google to Gumtree... finding work or connecting with the right person is no longer exclusive and reserved only for those in the top jobs. We all know business is about people, and for me, my contacts and networking opportunities are what makes my life fun.

My business is my passion. As an entrepreneur, you'll rarely find my latest project too far from my mind and I consider the energy I have for my enterprise my lifeblood. OK, I could have been born with a love of literature, or the urge to up-sell. Some people are born salesmen, others soulful artists, but me? I get my kicks creating something completely new. I'm a maverick, a revolutionary and incredibly stubborn when it comes to completion. And what I find most fascinating about how I do business is how much times have changed over the past decade.

In a world where we still valued status and brand recognition over independence and quality of life, it was the people in-the-know and had the connections that caught the worm. No matter how early you got up in the morning, a single soul like myself wouldn't have stood a chance 20 years ago when it came to kick-starting my business, but things have changed. We're witnessing a revolution, and as the online economy introduces everyone to... well... Everyone, it's just a question of logging on and lining up those contacts.

The e-Handshake can be extended in so many ways now. You can connect on LinkedIn, contact companies via their website or use companies such as PeoplePerHour which provides professionals all over the world access to a pool of freelancers and vice versa. No longer does the Rolodex rule! You can throw away that filo-fax and "Adieu" to the address book. Everything and everyone is now at the click of a button, so get online and get started. The revolution has put all people on a par, and we all have the assets available.

This has created a collaborative economy. With the pool of resources (and by resources I mean you, the people, and your skills) expanding at an impressive rate, anyone can be a business. Look at Etsy... Which allows mums, students, seamstresses, in fact anyone at all to sell their trinkets online. Instead of that savvy sewing being a mere hobby, people are making an income selling their things online, from pillowcases to handmade jewellery. It's an open game now, no buy in needed. The customer is up for grabs.

The collaborative economy swells when great minds that think alike connect. Entrepreneurs can bounce ideas off one another, they can share resources and contacts. They can recommend each other, reach a larger fan-base and create a buzz around their brand. But don't think this is just for the consulate professional. Thanks to the collaborative economy, workers can now control their own destinies. They can trade advice, pitch in on projects and suddenly there you have it... Not only the quality but the quantity of what's available increases dramatically.

Additionally, the collaborative economy is bridging gaps across time zones, generations, and socio-economic statuses, and it is doing so at an incredible pace. We love using our own freelancers at PeoplePerHour, we wouldn't be where we are today without them. It's a veritable menu of talent, with an abundance of hungry customers, and watching them connect on projects is incredibly rewarding. And with this platform so readily available, we will all need to make room for more at the table.

With every single working person as a potential member of this new economy, there are tremendous opportunities for independent financial empowerment. Your hobby can now become your career, and instead of slagging off your 9-5 at the pub, you can skip the stress and start surfing instead. Whatever your passion, be it gardening, cooking, writing, art... There's someone out there looking for you. So go and e-introduce yourself, and get paid for your passion instead of plodding through your day job. The collaborative economy is welcoming new professions and skills every day, meaning there has never been a better time to move up and out of the rigid confines of the corporation.

There are thousands of articles about how freelance workers improve their quality of life by setting their own hours and it's not only those wizards-of-words who are in high demand. Say you love art... There's a number of things you can do with that skill above selling your own work. OK, so that's the dream, but in the meantime why not offer your services as a reviewer? A well placed and knowledgeable review is invaluable. So get that pitch together, take that new artist you've been raving to your friends about and make them your ticket!

Currently, very few engage with people outside of their industry and sometimes, even their age group. The sense of community and connectedness that emerges around the collaborative economy should not be underestimated. The next stage is not a simple matter of a higher volume of workers setting up shop from home offices and setting their own hours. It's the great widening of the circle of independent workers making an entire living in areas that were once considered the purview of hobbyists and moonlighters.

With multiple platforms available to find work and contacts, we're putting a revolution in motion in real-time. So don't miss out. Get online, get pitching, and become an essential part of the collaborative economy.