Collaborative Consumption, Micro-Entrepreneurship

The Upside to the Down Economy


More bad news hit the US economy last Friday. First, we learned that employers added hardly any jobs, which is startling evidence that the highly anticipated economy recovery is stumbling.  And second, a survey of US households showed that more people were actively looking for work. As a result, the unemployment rate rose to 9.2% in June.


Not good! But, while the focus is often on the unemployment rate, “underemployment” is a significant concern as well. The economic downturn and the downsizing it triggered have created a virtual epidemic of underemployment. Underemployment can be defined a couple of ways: 1) having to work multiple jobs to make ends meet, and/ or 2) working a job that is considerably below your education or skill level. According to a recent Gallup survey, nearly 1 in 5 working Americans describe themselves as underemployed. The underemployment epidemic has spared no one – tenured professionals, Ivy League grads, budding entrepreneurs, etc.


As to be expected, the underemployed are looking for ways, any way really, to make ends meet. Holding multiple jobs, working in a position for which they have too much experience, selling their cars and other assets – anything to make some money and support themselves and/ or their families.


In such desperate times, wouldn’t it be nice if there was a solution that would allow folks to not only make ends meet but to do so on their own terms?


Well, fortunately there is. Fast Company recently published an infographic detailing the advantages of the collaborative consumption movement, namely as a next-generation income source. As the economy struggles to come out of its doldrums, it’s nice to know that there are some novel, convenient and self-respecting ways to make some cash. And wow, there is certainly some money to be made!



According to the infographic, the average New York-based user of AirBnb (a site which lets users rent out their house like a hotel) makes $21,000 annually. That’s certainly a nice supplement to any income!


If renting out your apartment or house isn’t an option, how about renting your car? Doing so can net you nearly $9,000 each year. And who knew? There is money to be made by renting out your old video games – a cool $200 per year in fact.


If you’re not so keen on doling out your worldly possessions, maybe you would be more comfortable monetizing your free time or your particular skills? Well, that’s where TaskRabbit comes in. As the infographic highlights, TaskRabbit is another great resource for making some extra cash – up to $15,000 in earnings per year.


We always viewed our service as a convenient alternative to traditional employment and a platform for aspiring entrepreneurs to build a lucrative business. This is becoming more and more relevant and critical as our economy continues to struggle. We call it micro-entrepreneurship, which is the idea that folks can build a business on a small scale and do so successfully. In true entrepreneurial fashion, TaskRabbit gives micro-entrepreneurs the opportunity to set their own schedule, set their own prices, and have oodles of flexibility – work when you want and how you want. Many of our TaskRabbits are looking to build a business around their unique skills, whether it is assembling IKEA furniture, grocery shopping, gardening, or photography. Our TaskRabbits are taking advantage of these unique skills and monetizing them and their free time.


Just when it seems like all news related to the economy is bad news, it’s nice to know that there are solutions and ways to make ends meet. Peer-to-peer marketplaces, like TaskRabbit, Airbnb and RelayRides, offer a unique solution, and hope to folks who need a little good news.