Side hustles now the leading route for start-ups

Joseph Holman started up his restoration business, Green Doors, in 2014 as a side hustle

Starting a side-hustle is the leading route to starting a business in the UK, according to new data from Small Business Britain and eBay, which found more than a third of small businesses (39%) now start-up this way.

The research – which recently polled over 1000 small business owners – found that over two thirds (46%) have been so successful in growing their side ventures that they have been able to quit their jobs and run their businesses full time.

As the country prepares to go to the polls, Small Business Britain and eBay are calling on the next Government to boost support for entrepreneurs, particularly the millions running side-hustles with the potential to power the UK’s future economic growth.

In particular, both organisations are supporting the Federation of Small Businesses’ (FSB) manifesto call for the next government to double the trading allowance for side-hustles, to help the third of small business owners starting up this way.

The research found that concerns around taxation negatively affect a quarter of entrepreneurs, however the biggest challenge is rising costs of goods, services and energy, cited by over half (56%) of business owners, alongside the need to generate more sales and leads (55%). Access to finance was also a major concern for over a third (39%).

Michelle Ovens CBE, founder of Small Business Britain added: “Starting a side-hustle has become a significant pathway for many aspiring entrepreneurs in the UK. It’s incredibly encouraging that nearly half of these ventures have grown enough for founders to go full-time.

“As we approach a pivotal election, the next Government must recognise the immense potential of side-hustles. By doubling the trading allowance, we can increasingly support these entrepreneurs, who are not only pursuing their passions but also driving our nation’s future economic growth.”

While one in five business owners (22%) said they started their side hustles to make extra cash, the most popular reason is actually to pursue a passion (43) or create more work-life balance (43%).

The freedom of running a business is listed as the top advantage for business owners with 66% benefitting greater flexibility, 63% enjoying being more creative and innovative and 65% boosting their skills. Yet 40% also underlined that stress and exhaustion is a key challenge.

For example, Joiner Joseph Holman originally started up his Luton-based restoration business, Green Doors, in 2014 as a side hustle after spotting a door in a skip that he could repair. Since then, he has significantly expanded his business. Joseph states: “Having dyslexia and ADHD allows me to see opportunities that others might miss, such as salvaging items that deserve a second chance. I began my entrepreneurial journey at the age of 12 on eBay, which provided me with a great platform to learn the ins and outs of running a business. This experience helped shape my current company, which now employs more than 25 people.

“Never having had any investment and bootstrapping from day one has been a real challenge. I think many new entrepreneurs feel the same with the rising costs and limited resources for financing. It’s crucial for the next government to support entrepreneurs, particularly those tackling green initiatives.”

An eBay spokesperson added“Small businesses are the beating heart of eBay, and the UK economy. It’s therefore promising to see so many side hustles flourishing into full-time businesses. However, if the UK is to continue its rich heritage of innovation and empowering people, from all walks of life, to pursue their passions and achieve financial freedom, more support is needed. Doubling the trading allowance is one such way the next Government can put its faith and support in the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.”