The swelling number of micro-businesses in the UK looks set to change the face of British enterprise, as more and more people strive to make money from their hobby, according to new research from the Royal Society of Arts (RSA).
The report, Breaking the Mould, was published today in partnership with Etsy, the global ecommerce marketplace for handmade goods.
It found that the number of people working for themselves in addition to their full-time employment has risen by 31% since 2000.
Since the beginning of 2014, the number of people who are part-time self-employed increased by 10% – the equivalent of an extra 100,000 people.
A survey of 600 Etsy sellers revealed this new approach to enterprise is set to change the image of business, moving away from masculine stereotypes and cut-throat tactics. 90% of the Etsy shop owners surveyed were women, with the majority aged 16-34. 48% of sellers said they recommend the products of others, while 37% said, where possible, they source materials and supplies from other shops on the website.
Benedict Dellot, senior researcher at RSA, said:
“People selling on online craft marketplaces exemplify a new type of business owner – one who is driven to start up for creative reasons, has deep interactions with their customers, and provides subtle peer support to fellow shop owners. Yet this is not a departure from capitalism but rather a return to its roots. Platforms like Etsy capture business as it was intended to be: colourful, full of humanity and resulting in exchanges that are to the benefit of all involved.”
The Etsy marketplace mirrors a much wider trend in the UK, with the number of people working for themselves for less than 30 hours a week growing by almost 60% since 2000.
It is becoming increasingly important for the government to provide continued support for the self-employed. The report recommends creating a new tier of business support for part-time business owners, as well as making business support part of the BBC’s public purpose and deepening public knowledge of the “therapeutic effect of selling.”
Etsy global director of digital marketing, Andre Rickerby, said:
“Shining a light on the incredible work our sellers do to make their businesses a success is a great way to make sure we can provide support in the right way through our platform,” he says. “Our sellers are so impressive, creatively and through the hard work they do, it’s really interesting to see how this new paradigm of the entrepreneur is having an impact on the UK economy.”
Image by Scott Beale