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Over a third of people in the UK now run their own side hustle

3-minute read

Catriona Smith

12 November 2021

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New research reveals that over one third of people in the UK now run their own side hustle, with some savvy entrepreneurs expecting to make over £5,000 each in additional income in the next year.

In a survey of 1,000 people across the UK, Simply Business found the majority of side hustles were set up during the pandemic.

We delve into the most popular side hustles, what’s driving this trend, and why small businesses are vital to the UK’s economy.

Over half of side hustles started during the pandemic

Our research found that 55 per cent of side hustles were set up during the pandemic as people used their time, energy, and a need for extra income to start a business.

In terms of how the pandemic impacted people and their plans for their side business, our survey highlights that:

  • nearly a third (28 per cent) said it gave them time and energy to make their side hustle happen
  • one quarter (23 per cent) said it made them reconsider what they wanted to do long term
  • one in five (20 per cent) were also motivated to make up for lost income

The opportunity to invest money otherwise spent on leisure and new markets opening up for products or services were among other reasons people started their side business during the pandemic.

Reasons for starting a side hustle in the pandemic

We also asked businesses if they considered their side business their main source of income. Our survey reveals that seven out of ten (72 per cent) of those running a side hustle are currently employees of a company.

A trend set to continue

It looks like we can expect to see more small businesses emerging in the future. Our survey found 31 per cent of people are thinking about setting up a side business but haven’t got it up and running yet. Here’s what they told us:

  • 36 per cent say they have an idea but are still figuring it out
  • 30 per cent say they haven’t had the time to get started
  • 17 per cent say they need to find funding first

Top 10 side hustles set up during the pandemic

In terms of the most popular trades for side businesses, here’s what we found:

  1. Arts and crafts
  2. Online shop / e-commerce
  3. Clothing and textiles
  4. Social media content creator
  5. Home baking / cake making
  6. Tutoring / teaching
  7. IT / Computing
  8. Marketing services, including copywriting and design
  9. Hair and beauty services
  10. Fitness / wellbeing

Yet worryingly, 78 per cent of people don’t have insurance for their side business, and 55 per cent are unsure what kind of insurance they would need. Find out more about insurance for specific trades and industries.

It’s vital to support small businesses

Our UK CEO, Alan Thomas, commented: “It is testament to the entrepreneurial spirit that runs throughout the UK that more than one in three people now have a side hustle alongside their main source of income.

“Small businesses are crucial to the UK, accounting for 99 per cent of all British businesses and contributing trillions of pounds a year to our economy. It’s therefore encouraging to see that so many people have taken the plunge during the pandemic and started side businesses."

What are the challenges of running a side business?

Finally, we asked small business owners what they found most challenging when it comes to running their side business.

Challenge% of people
Not enough time to properly run it34%
Struggle to get work-life balance right19%
Struggle to market their business and find customers17%

"Many [people] also report roadblocks as they look to scale their side hustles – such as time, finance, and red tape, and it is vital that we all support their success. At Simply Business, we're acutely aware of the many challenges facing small business owners when starting up. That's why we’ve created our side hustle resource hub, which offers business guides and practical resources to help side businesses get off the ground," Thomas added.

Find out more about marketing your business, tips for work life balance, and building Google reviews to attract customers.

Examples of top side hustles

Growing from a side business to commercial bakery

Home baking is the top five trade for side businesses according to our research. And recently we spoke to a sweet treat bakery and Simply Business customer, Butterwick Bakery, about just this.

Butterwick started out as a small occasion baking business at home, where co-founder, Fiona Scarborough says she "didn't have enough hours in the day."

Now they’re running a commercial bakery in Corby and Kettering with big dreams to become a recognised bakery brand everywhere.

“We want to conquer the Midlands. Once we’ve done that, we can do that anywhere,” says co-founder Ryan Scarborough.

Watch Butterwick's story:

Are you running your own side hustle? Let us know your experience in the comments.

Photograph 1: vientocuatroestudio/

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We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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