Begley: Now is the time to become a ‘sharepreneur’

Kathleen Begley
Kathleen Begley

Way back in the 1960s, my father carpooled to work.

So did a truckload of his co-workers at an oil refinery in Marcus Hook in neighboring Delaware County

Little did they know that they were pioneers in the sharing economy, one of the hottest areas of economic growth more than 50 years later.

According to Knowledge, a publication of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, carpooling was one of the earliest, though decidedly low-tech, forms of the current trend.

One person drove. Others paid a few dollars for the ride.

Carpooling was a win-win deal.

The driver made a few extra bucks for gasoline and upkeep of his car. The passengers saved the expense of wear and tear on their vehicles.

Thanks to technology, the sharing economy has reached a level of sophistication and size unknown in my father’s day.

“Call it the sharing economy, call it peer-to-to peer commerce, call it collaborative consumption,” notes a 36-page article on the topic at “No matter what you call it, it’s having a massive impact on how we do business and is disrupting established industries at a breakneck pace.”

Valued at about $20 billon in 2016, this new way of buying and selling is expected to grow to $335 billion in 2025, according to a study by PwC, a marketing research company.

So what exactly does this phenomenon encompass?

Lending your tools. Renting your car. Caring for pets. Chauffeuring kids. Sharing designer clothing. Dropping off packages. Typing sales proposals. Designing logos.

You name it. A sharepreneur somewhere seems to be doing it.

Take Airbnb the best-known platform for renting a portion or all of your home. It contains 30,000 listings throughout the world.

When I checked a few days ago, I discovered that hundreds of of Chester County home and condo owners already are advertising their properties.

If you know someone who wants to spend a night in the eastern part of the county, for example, you might direct the individual to an “equestrian gentleman’s farm” for $500 per night.

Think your personal or business contact would be more interested in staying in downtown West Chester? Then you could suggest encampment in a “five-bedroom historic home” for $225 per night.

If a farther north location seems perfect for your out-of-towner, tell the person about a house in a “serene coumtry setting” in Chester Springs for $1,500 per night.

“In the promising parlance of the sharing economy, where sites and apps connect people selling and buying services, people become microentrepreneurs,” writes Natasha Singer in Huffington Post. “That’s an independent contractor who earns money by providing something to people who are willing to pay for it.”

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