UK's side hustle economy generates £72bn

UK's side hustle economy generates £72bn
Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events

Posted: Sun 8th Jul 2018

It was in 2010 that Enterprise Nation founder Emma Jones wrote her book, Working 5 to 9: How to Start a Successful Business in Your Spare Time, and encouraged thousands of people to run their own venture alongside a full time job.

Eight years on, new research has revealed that Britain's merry band of 5-9ers is growing; big time!

According to the study by Henley Business School, one in four Brits are running at least one business project on the side which contributes £72bn to the UK economy.

Despite also having full employment, a quarter of side hustlers work up to 50 hours a week, 13 hours more than the average UK worker. Many say they feel happier and more content in their day job and 69% claim side hustles make life more interesting.

Three quarters of 5 to 9ers start a side hustle to follow a passion or explore a new challenge, while these extra businesses contribute 20% to the part time entrepreneurs' income.

side hustle research

Henley Business School said the increasing trend can be explained by a shift in millennial attitudes towards work and advances in technology, which makes it easier for people to run a business from their phone.

Side hustles 'could increase to 50% of UK population'

Over half of the UK's side businesses were only created in the last two years and researchers anticipate that by 2030 the number of people with side hustles could increase to 50% of the UK population.

But despite contributing approximately 3.6% to the UK's GDP, some bosses not convinced.

Although 49% feel that allowing employees to run a side project helps to retain their best people, 60% say it makes their workforce more productive and happier, 54% of employers remain ambivalent about the benefits and over half have no formal policy around it.

Henley Business School warned "this complacency could cost UK businesses £340 million a year, if top talent leave to pursue jobs with more supportive, flexible employers".

Researchers said businesses should start to navigate the new economy and set up a formal policy on side-hustling within employment contracts and encourage honest dialogue their employees.

Professor Bernd Vogel, founding director of the Henley Centre for Leadership, added:

"With 25% of adults side-hustling today, there is no way back.

"Those who have the appetite and confidence to go it all alone as an entrepreneur, will not let the chance slip.

"We can expect growth in side-hustling, possibly even doubling, in the next 10 years, especially if human resources in organisations makes side-hustling an element of its toolkit and facilitates outside and internal side hustles as instruments for purpose, rewards and innovation."

Award-winning rapper, documentary maker and side hustle extraordinaire Professor Green offered this advice: "Taking on a side hustle isn't always easy; it takes preparation, thick skin, ideas and commitment enough to execute them.

"Prepare for rejection, and to get things wrong. If I stopped at the first 'no' I got or gave up after making the many mistakes I have along the way I'd be nowhere now."

Enterprise Nation Emma Jones commented:

"Since writing the book Working 5 to 9 back in 2010, the number of people starting a business alongside a day job, studies, or caring, has continued to rocket.

"I maintain that it's a great way to start as you give yourself time to build confidence and cash flow in the business.

"What must develop alongside this movement is the infrastructure to deliver business support to this group of fledgling entrepreneurs, such as access to 24/7 trusted advice, and multiple evening and weekend events so part-time business owners can access the skills and support they need to go full time, if that's the aim. The economy will benefit as a result."

Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events
I'm a freelance content creator and event host who helps small businesses and the organisations that support them. I have 18 years of experience as a small business journalist having interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs from billionaires like Sir Richard Branson to the founders behind brand new start-ups. I've worked for a range of leading small business publications and support groups, most recently as head of content at Enterprise Nation where I was responsible for the prolific output of content on the company's blog and social media. I'm based in Bristol where I run and host regular events with the local small business community and have strong connections to major business organisations in the south west region. In total, I've hosted over 50 events; from intimate meet-ups to conferences with an audience of hundreds including events for international brands like Facebook and Xero. I'm also a big fan of podcasts having hosted Enterprise Nation's Small Business Sessions as well as lots of online events including Facebook Live interviews, webinars and three live web chats from inside 10 Downing Street. With my partner, I co-run Lifestyle District, a lifestyle blog focused on culture, art, theatre and photography. I'm here to help. I'm volunteering free advice calls of up to an hour as part of the Recovery Advice for Business scheme, over the next 6 months. Please get in touch to see how I can help your business. 

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