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There are approximately 20 million self-employed business people in America. Many of them have retail businesses, and the rest comprise a wide variety of entrepreneurs, from professionals to manufacturers to contractors to artists and everything else you can imagine. The variety of ways these business people can share is just as wide as the nature of their work, and these ways of sharing have many benefits. Sharing work space cuts costs, but also conserves resources of all kinds, including space itself and the natural resources used to heat and light it. It also allows for many other types of sharing, from sharing equipment, supplies, and subscriptions, to sharing employees. All of these solutions free up money and time that can be plugged back into the business.
What about those of us who still punch a time clock? The average American spends 45 hours a week at work, which gives us plenty of time—and lots of ways—to share with our coworkers. Through bulk buying, we can reduce our use of fossil fuels and packaging materials, and lower our costs for food and household items. Sharing meals saves us time and provides opportunities to build relationships with coworkers. Sharing a job saves time, transportation costs, and office space.
This chapter covers all of these business and workplace sharing ideas. It also provides some information about sharing a business with employees, through creating a cooperative or setting up a system of partial or complete employee ownership.