Nearly 20% of working age adults are running a side business

A new study on the future of work conducted by simple e-commerce platform Selz uncovers the extent to which consumers are seeking out greater personal fulfilment and financial freedom by using technology to set up a side business.

Titled “The Side Business Phenomena,” the research surveyed working-age adults in the UK, US and Australia and found that an average of 16 per cent were actively engaged in a side business, spending an average of 14.5 hours per week doing so. Side business entrepreneurs earn an average £16K per year in additional income, while 12 per cent of the respondents add more than £49K to their annual income.

Martin Rushe, CEO at Selz, said, “Our research clearly shows that attitudes to work-life are changing. People are demanding much more flexibility around how they work and what they do — and that flexibility is valued as highly as money. People are tired of the daily grind, and personal entrepreneurialism is the emerging solution.”

When questioned about motivations to start a side business, the most frequent answer (57 per cent) was: to make more money. But money is clearly not the only reason, with 45 per cent specifying to do something that I love as their secondary reason. Geographically, the results are nuanced. In the U.S., the main driver is money; in the UK, it’s love; and in Australia, it was a tie between these two reasons.

And it’s technology, in particular e-commerce software, that is helping to drive this transformation, with 17 per cent of side business owners providing a service or product that is exclusively online and 46 per cent opting to mix online and offline channels.

Side businesses also operate across a wide range of industries, with services as the most popular at 33 per cent and specifically technology and business services following with an aggregate 28 per cent of all operations. In terms of what people are doing as their side business, 89 per cent operate as suppliers of services or physical goods while 11 per cent have a product that is purely digital.

“Technology is zeroing the time and the risks involved in setting up a side business,” Rushe continued. “With Selz, for example, people can be up and running with a business in hours, with access to all the leading-edge tools used by big business, but at a fraction of the cost.”