Cashing in on the on-demand economy as a small business


Make a wish and your heart’s desire will appear before your eyes. This used to be the stuff of Disney movies. For consumers, it’s the new normal. The smartphone is like a genie’s lamp in our pocket.

Companies like Uber, Airtasker and Amazon are changing expectations of technology experiences and how quickly our appetites are sated.

Convenience has become a competitive advantage. Consumers are delighted but increasingly entitled to speed, simplicity and frictionless experiences.

Employees also expect ease – people are increasingly seeking work that fits around their lives and adapts to their routines.

Whether you’re looking to attract more consumers or the right staff, here’s how to capitalise on big opportunities in the on-demand economy:

Meet people where they are

Consider tailoring your products and services to ensure that your customers experience the benefit as soon as possible. To give you an idea of how customer expectations have changed, searches for ‘same-day shipping’ have grown 120 per cent since 2015. Uber says it has 1.3 million regular riders in Sydney alone. How can you adapt your offerings to better suit the needs of customers who view speed as the key criteria?  Softened this – Uber is our partner and the previous wording sounded like we are questioning them.

Your small business must be available in the moments when people have time to get things done – like on the train, bus or standing in line waiting to grab a coffee.

It’s not just about your business being online. With 88 per cent of Australians owning a smartphone, they’re increasingly replacing laptops. This means your small businesses must:

  • Have a mobile-first website. Does it adapt to the screen it’s being viewed on?
  • Be where your customers are. How are you engaging with your customers across digital media? Are you using social media to engage with your customers?
  • Think hard about what you’re saying. Make sure you’re identifying your customers’ pain pointsand answering them directly in the content you put online.
  • Take user experience seriously. If your website takes more than three seconds to load you could lose half your customers.
  • Follow these golden rules for content creationso that you are maximising your ability to build trust quickly and not wasting your efforts.
  • Ensure your site is Search Engine Optimisedand it doesn’t take your customers too long to find you.
  • Consider developing a dedicated mobile app to improve your customer experience.

The on-demand worker

The gig economy is rapidly rising, with many choosing a portfolio of jobs rather than a single employer like their parent’s generation. It remains a challenge to attract and retain great staff, so employers need to think innovatively.

Workers in all sectors increasingly expect their work environment to be flexible. Whether it’s mobile headsets, laptops or the flexibility to work from home to provide work-life balance, what used to be a benefit is fast becoming an expectation in today’s workforce.

Get paid on-demand

Making the most of micro moments isn’t just for consumers. Online accounting software like QuickBooks Online lets small business owners catch up on invoicing from the palm of their hand. To improve your chances of getting paid faster, aim to send your invoice as soon as possible. This demonstrates that you’re providing a professional service and serious about what you do. Research shows there’s a ‘recency effect’ when it comes to payments, with invoices received quickly more likely to get dealt with rapidly. The genie is out of the bottle –don’t underestimate the demand for on-demand.

Bianca Bowron-Cuthill, Head of Customer Success, Intuit Australia.