Side businesses generate over £40bn a year to the UK economy

  • New research from O2 Business reveals that over a quarter (27%) of Brits in full-time employment are earning money outside of their 9-to-5 – that’s over six million people
  • Digital and mobile technology has allowed more people to follow their passions and set up their side business, and they make on average £6,446 in additional income while doing so
  • Two fifths (40%) know someone else with a side business, and nearly a quarter (23%) would consider setting one up in the future
  • Tech/IT is most popular industry to have a side business, followed by Arts/Crafts and Blogging/Vlogging

New research from O2 Business has found that over a quarter (27%) of Brits in full time employment, over six million people*, now own a ‘side business’ – one that people run alongside their day job. And they are reaping the rewards of their extra work. On average, side business owners are topping up their usual annual salary by 23% or £6,446 a year**, generating a collective £40 billion*** a year to the UK economy.

The research also reveals that two fifths of UK workers (40%) know someone else who works both 9-to-5 and 5-to-9, with 23% of respondents saying that they are considering setting up a side business in the future.

When asked what motivated them to establish their side business, just under two thirds of people surveyed said they wanted to earn extra money (58%) whilst for over a quarter (27%) it was to follow their passion. But the research also made it clear that for many, a side business is an opportunity to test the waters for their next career, with over two fifths (41%) of side business owners admitting they would like to make their current extracurricular work their full-time job at some point in the future.

The O2 Business research found the top-ten most popular side business sectors were:

  1. Tech/IT (e.g. PC repairs and website design)
  2. Arts & Crafts (e.g. jewellery making, card making and painting)
  3. Blogging/Vlogging (e.g. blogs on beauty and sports)
  4. Fitness (e.g. person training or a dance instructor)
  5. Food/Drink (e.g. Catering, bar work and even selling eggs from pet chickens)
  6. Health & Beauty (e.g. hairdressing, nail painting and selling cosmetics)
  7. Gardening (e.g. landscaping, selling home-grown plants and lawn and hedge cutting)
  8. Tutoring (e.g. school-level tutoring, music tutoring and postgraduate supervision)
  9. DJ-ing/Music (e.g. club DJ, singer or playing in a band)
  10. Photography (e.g. wedding photography and children’s photography)

But running a side business is no small feat: the results also found that people are typically spending over nine hours a week outside of their day job on their side business, equating to nearly 59 extra working days a year.

The findings revealed that one of the key enablers to starting a side business is technology, which has lowered both the barriers and risks by reducing the cost of setting up and running a business, while giving business owners exposure to more potential customers than ever before.

When asked if they would have been able to establish their side business 15 years ago, 45% of respondents said no. In fact, over a third (35%) also said they do not think they would have been able to have established their business before the prevalence of smartphones, with a huge 53% declaring their smartphone a fundamental tool for their side business today.

In a true reflection of how people are adopting modern digital tools, broadband (46%), laptops (35%), social media (27%) and the cloud (14%) were also all listed as useful tools that enabled people to establish their business outside of their day-to-day job.

Ben Dowd O2’s Sales Director commented on the findings, “Mobile devices are now more than ever the remote control of our personal lives, but as our research reveals they are increasingly becoming a remote office for our side business passions. Whether it’s taking the first step to try out a business idea outside of normal working hours or making the transition to pursue that idea full time, O2 can help with free tech advice every step of the way.”

O2 Business offers a range of products for growing businesses and start-ups, including the first flexible tariff, Business Essentials. Whether it’s the need for the latest device, a tailored data plan or new business apps, the scalable tariff makes it even easier for business owners to put digital technology at the heart of what they do.

Customers will benefit from clear pricing, up to ten of the latest devices on a single contract and a simple 24-month price plan, with the option to change devices, digital apps and airtime at any time

For more information on Business Essentials, click here.

For business advice and tips, visit: http://businessblog.o2.co.uk/ or to hear more about the side hustle, listen to O2 Business new podcast series here.

 

*Calculated using the number of people in the UK in full-time work: 23.24[1] million people

** Calculated using the average UK salary of £28,028[2]

*** Calculated by multiplying the number of people in the UK with a side business (as per this research) by the average amount of money made by side businesses (as per this research), which amounts to £40,447,360,800

[1] ONS, 2016: http://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/bulletins/uklabourmarket/november2016

[2] ONS, 2016: http://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/earningsandworkinghours/bulletins/annualsurveyofhoursandearnings/2016provisionalresults