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

More than a quarter of Brits in full-time employment are earning money outside of their 9-to-5 – a total of over six million people, a new study reveals.

More than a quarter (27 per cent) of Brits in full time employment, over six million people, now own a side business – one that people run alongside their day job, according to new research from O2 Business. And they are reaping the rewards of their extra work.

On average, side business owners are topping up their usual annual salary by 23 per cent 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 per cent) know someone else who works both 9-to-5 and 5-to-9, with 23 per cent 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, two thirds of people surveyed said they wanted to earn extra money (58 per cent) whilst for over a quarter (27 per cent) it was to follow their passion.

The internet has made side businesses more accessible

But the research also made it clear that for many, a side business is an opportunity to test the waters for their next career, over two fifths (41 per cent) of side business owners admit 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 most popular side business sectors were tech/IT (e.g. PC repairs and website design), arts & crafts (e.g. jewellery making, card making and painting), blogging/vlogging (e.g. blogs on beauty and sports) and fitness (e.g. person training or a dance instructor).

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 per cent of respondents said no. In fact, over a third (35 per cent) also said they do not think they would have been able to have established their business before the prevalence of smartphones, a huge 53 per cent declare their smartphone a fundamental tool for their side business today.

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

Ben Dowd, O2 sales director, says, ‘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.’

Further reading on side business

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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Side Business