Scots ‘side businesses’ generate £1.7bn a year

About one in ten Scots with side business make their extra cash through arts and crafts, such as making pottery. Picture: Sean Bell
About one in ten Scots with side business make their extra cash through arts and crafts, such as making pottery. Picture: Sean Bell
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More than 500,000 people living in Scotland have started a side business, generating a collective £1.7 billion a year out of more than £33bn UK-wide, according to new research.

Online lender Sunny said many of those north of the Border turning to side businesses are doing so to help with the cost of bills, savings and debts, and bring in an average of £272 a month on top of their main income.

That represents a 20 per cent increase from when they first started their business.

About two-fifths of those with side businesses sell goods, such as secondhand furniture or clothing at car boot sales, or through online marketplaces such as eBay, Amazon, Depop and Shpock. And about one in ten make their extra cash through arts and crafts, with creative pursuits such as making and painting pottery and designing jewellery.

Asked why they started side enterprises, nearly two-thirds highlighted the sense of purpose running one brings, 47 per cent said they needed the extra cash, while a fifth wanted to make money independently. One in six said they started working on their source of extra income because they realised an existing hobby could make money, while 15 per cent said they wanted to be their own boss.

Micro-entrepreneurs in Scotland are using their extra income to boost their monthly earnings (31 per cent), as well as to help cover bills (15 per cent) and contribute to savings (27 per cent). Meanwhile, some side business income is being put aside for bigger, planned expenditures such as holidays (6 per cent) and Christmas (13 per cent).

Scott Greever from Sunny said: “It is impressive to see so many people in Scotland building a side business to earn some extra cash. Whether they are using their talent and creativity or meeting a consumer demand using new technology, these micro-entrepreneurs are taking control of their finances, and showing entrepreneurial spirit in order to boost their personal income.

“Given the current economic climate in the UK, it isn’t surprising that some people are feeling the squeeze and taking on extra work to supplement their primary earnings. What is really positive to see is that people are feeling a sense of purpose and taking pride in their hard work building a side business.”

However, a fifth of respondents in Scotland cited the difficulties of balancing their side and main job with their personal lives. A third of respondents said they feel a side enterprise is an added burden that they must bear. However, two-thirds said they enjoy it because of the extra income, while three in five say it gives them a sense of purpose.

Sunny.co.uk is a trading name of Elevate Credit International.