I hadn’t previously considered the ‘black economy’ as a potential market for a collaboration platform, but, according to a recent article about US-based software-as-a-service provider MyOnlineToolbox (see post), the recession could boost uptake of simple collaborative applications for tradespeople doing untaxed work. In the Entrepreneur Magazine article, MyOnlineToolbox’s Brian Javeline says many small-scale US contractors never declare themselves on government forms, tackling small scale repair or refurbishment jobs during off-hours from other professions and getting paid in cash or by cheque.
“These off-the-radar contractors are ideal candidates for MyOnlineToolbox, Javeline says. The platform’s viral collaboration elements create an expanding network of skilled, reliable peers across different specialties such as plumbing, electrical repair and carpentry. Members can advertise for bids and refer others for jobs.”
Hmmmm. The recent recession on both sides of the Atlantic is likely to have increased the number of such contractors, but UK tax and benefits authorities take a dim view of people earning undeclared income, and I suspect their US counterparts will feel the same. Would such ‘black economy’ workers use an online service, especially if it meant that there was potentially a detailed electronic record of their transactions and of other people in their business networks? Great, of course, for legitimate business purposes, but ‘black economy’ workers might need to be careful about identifying how ‘reliable’ their network partners are.