Record number of Brits starting up hobbyist businesses

Last three years has seen record numbers become self-employed, with most starting up in a completely new field of work

A record number of entrepreneurs (40%) started a business based on their hobby in 2016, according to research from AXA – a significant increase on the 17% who did so in 2012.

The report claims that the last three years has seen the most rapid rise in self-employment ever seen in the UK, with more than two million people setting up a business. The majority (67%) of that figure said that their business was not directly related to their previous job, while 47% said it was in an entirely different field of work.

Those over the age of 55 were the most likely to undergo a radical change in the nature of their work, with 88% starting up in a completely new field, while women are twice as likely as men to enter a new professional sector – perhaps linked to the fact that they are also twice as likely to start up after a career break or unemployment (32% versus 18%).

Online retail was the most popular sector for hobbyist start-ups, particularly selling highly niche products, followed by arts & crafts, writing, games development, and photography and multimedia editing. The average income for a hobby-based business was £762 per month – compared to £1,113 for the average business started in the last three years.

Gareth Howell, managing director of AXA Insurance, commented: “British people are living through a time of great transformation in the way they live and work.

“The economic pressures that fuel the gig or freelance economy are well-documented, but our study highlights that there is a very real pursuit of happiness and liberty going on here too. People want to do something that gives them a sense of pride and craftsmanship, as well as to make money.”

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