Side hustles are now a leading route for start-ups in the UK, accounting for over a third of new businesses, according to research from Small Business Britain and eBay.

The survey found that 39% of small businesses began as side-hustles and that 46% of side-hustlers grew their ventures enough to quit their jobs and run their businesses full-time.

Side hustles are a common starting point in the garment decoration sector such as PrintClever in Swindon which was founded by Ryan Acres at the age of 16 in his parents’ garage while he was at college. Read the decorator profile of PrintClever in the January 2024 issue of Images.

Over one in five business owners (22%) said they started their side hustles to make extra cash but the most popular reasons were to pursue a passion (43%) and to create a better work-life balance (43%).

The research also revealed that the top advantage of being an entrepreneur was “the freedom of running a business”, with 66% saying it gave them greater flexibility and 63% saying they enjoyed being more creative and innovative. However, 40% underlined that stress and exhaustion were a key challenge.

The survey of more than 1,000 small business owners was carried out in spring 2024 by campaign group Small Business Britain and eBay, a popular route to market for side hustles.

Citing the findings, they called on Keir Starmer’s new Government to double the trading allowance for side-hustles as part of its support for small businesses. At present, entrepreneurs can get up to £1,000 in tax-free allowances in each tax year for property or trading income.

Michelle Ovens, founder of Small Business Britain, said: “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.

“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.”