Claire Marshall is our resident sharing and gig economy guru. She challenged herself to live entirely off the sharing economy
for one month in the most expensive city in the world – London.

It was a wild ride that saw her wearing stranger’s clothes to eating their food, teaching their children, writing about their lives,
working with them and sleeping in their beds! Claire not only survived but developed a passion for the potential of the sharing economy. She is also our wonderful GLO facilitator, helping young women to develop entrepreneurial aspirations and acumen.

Before we dive into our conversation with Claire, let’s take a moment to define what we mean by the “sharing economy”.
At Global Sisters, we think of the sharing economy as simply sharing under-utilised assets, whether that be your spare room through Airbnb or a car you don’t use everyday through Car Next Door. A little different to the sharing economy is the “gig economy” where you are providing your time or a service, for example cleaning a house on Airtasker, cooking for your neighbours on Food St or pet sitting on Mad Paws.

The reason we are so excited about the potential of the sharing and gig economy is that it provides an opportunity to bring in immediate, short term income for entrepreneurs to build their longer-term dream. It has reduced the barriers to starting a business in Australia- it’s now so easy to jump on a sharing platform and start earning an income. Of course, there are risks to look out for, but if we go in with our eyes wide open it can be a powerful way to kick-start a business. Alongside that is the human connection part of the sharing economy. It’s not just about making money, it’s about bringing people together and creating community. How brilliant is that!

Recently I interviewed Claire on the sharing economy and how it can be used by women starting out in business in Australia.

Claire, why do you love the sharing economy?

When I was working in television, I started sharing my car via Car Next Door. I had a booking one weekend for the car but the window was jammed stuck and was at the shop being fixed. I called the man who had booked my car, nervous that’d be really annoyed and heard a story that made me fall in love with the sharing economy. The man told me the story of how he used the car, taking his mum on weekend outings from her nursing home and how much they both loved the freedom and fun that my little red convertible Peugeot allowed them.

It made me realise that my car had more value to my community than it did just to me and made me completely rethink the concept of ownership.

Claire, you lived off the share economy for a month in London – what was your motivation for this experiment and what did you learn?

I was pitching a reality TV show concept for funding about living off the sharing economy and I kept hitting a brick wall – nobody thought it was actually possible. So I thought I’m just going to do it myself to show them that it is possible!

I was in London at the time and lived entirely off the sharing economy over a month, engaging with 60 sharing and gig economy platforms.

What I found was that the sharing economy works best when it is using underutilised assets, not when sharing time. I also found that when a monetary exchanged is removed people operate from a completely different place. It was surprising and wonderful to see how the shared economy creates community and what I call an “ambient value”- a more social, human-centered value above and beyond the economic transaction.

What was most frustrating was that there was no central site for all the sharing and gig economy platforms and I am looking to see how we can solve this through my current work.

What should Sisters watch out for when considering the sharing and gig economy?

  • Keep your eyes wide open so that you are not exploited. 
  • Don’t undervalue your skills and offering, especially if you have niche expertise. 
  • You are however competing on a national and even worldwide market and may need to initially lower your price until you build
    ratings on the platform.
  • As all the platforms take a cut, make sure you factor this in when setting your price.
  • Just like in real life, do a simple background check on customers by Googling them. Follow this up with a 5 minute phone call- this will save you hours in email communications and allow for human interaction and a “gut feeling” on whether you want to work with the particular customer.

Global Sisters is working with Airbnb to support Sisters to offer “experiences” such as workshops. If you would like to learn more please contact your local Accelerator Lead or myself at heather@globalsisters.org. Some other sharing and gig economy platforms to consider are:

1. Airtasker
2. Car Next Door
3. Spacer
4. Food Street
5. Mad Paws

To learn more about Claire and her work go to: www.sharestories.net/sharing-economy

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