One of the more interesting findings from the Intuit On-Demand Economy study is the various ways on-demand economy platforms are being used to start and build small businesses.
According to the survey results, 37% of those using online, on-demand platforms have an existing business and 21% have a desire to run their own business.
A good example is Victor Sandifer, Lyft driver and small business owner of Run the World Clothing. He drives for Lyft to provide him with income while he builds his clothing business. It also provides him with schedule flexibility.
This gives him the ability to generate income during gaps in his schedule when he's not required to be engaged in his clothing business.
Sandifer says he enjoys driving for Lyft, but sees it as short term work. Once his clothing business is generating enough profit to support him, he says he will stop driving.
This is another attribute of on-demand platforms that budding small business owners appreciate. It's a a low friction work option.
Unlike a traditional full or part-time job, it's easy to start (no interviewing, no bosses, no fix schedules, etc.) and also equally easy to stop. You can also stop and re-start pretty much anytime you want.
This makes working in the on-demand economy an attractive option for those starting a new business.
In Sandifer's case, his on-demand work is not related to the business he's building. In other cases, the on-demand work is directly related.
Examples of people going out on their own and/or starting a small business with the help of on-demand platforms include:
- Lawyers using sites like Avvo and Upcounsel to find clients
- Consultants securing new business through sites like Catalant and Upwork
- Field service technicians and small field service firms getting work through sites like Field Nation, OnForce and WorkMarket.
- Trades and consumer services workers and firms using sites like Thumbtack
In all these cases and many more, on-demand platforms are being used to help start a new business by providing access to potential customers.
Existing businesses and independent workers are also turning to on-demand platforms. While word of mouth and networking are still by far the primary way independents find work, the online platforms are increasingly being used to augment these methods.
According to data from the 2016 MBO Partners State of Independence study series, about 1 in 5 independent workers use on-demand platforms to help them find customers. This is up from only about 5% in 2011.
The use of on-demand economy platforms to help start and build businesses is not well known. But it's a key reason for the growing number of people using these platforms to find work.