Guess how many professionals now have side businesses - and why it's good news for managers

23 July 2018 -

Working from homeNew research shows many professionals now run their own business and it helps to boost their management skills

Emily Hill

According to new research published by Henley Business School, as many as four in ten adults working in the UK are running ‘side hustles’ or side businesses, in addition to pursuing full-time careers. The white paper suggests that this trend is expected to rapidly increase. Yet around half of businesses have no fixed policies around the practice – with implications for UK managers.

“We can expect growth in side-hustling, possibly even doubling, in the next ten years,” explains Professor Bernd Vogel, founding director of the Henley Centre for Leadership. “Especially if human resources in organisations makes side-hustling an element of its toolkit and facilitates outside and internal side hustles as instruments for purpose, rewards and innovation.”


Some forward-thinking companies, such as the travel search engine Trivago, are actively encouraging their employees to go into business for themselves in their spare time. “It is important to find people that are not externally, but internally motivated,” Rolf Shrömgens, MD and co-founder of Trivago has explained. “It all starts with creating the right kind of environment, and realising that you can’t make people work.”

Read more: This is how I run my side business and work for Trivago

Certainly, side projects can help enhance free-thinking and creativity within an organisation and some UK managers are enjoying creating their own businesses on the side themselves.

By day, Rebecca Yates is policy and public affairs manager at Smart Energy GB. By night, at weekends, and during her commute, she puts her painting skills into practice as the head of her own brand of prints, notebooks, cards and accessories, Rebecca Yates London. She explains, “It is also incredibly rewarding. For one thing you learn so much that can be transferred to your job.”

Tom Bourlet, a marketing manager for The Stag Company, agrees. He runs a portfolio of businesses on the side – including a travel blog, a bar finder app and Take It Offline a marketing roundtable event.

“I certainly think having a side project helps you in your workplace,” he explains. “Every project I do in my personal time is almost an experiment which can then be extracted and used in my other work. At work last year I was having to arrange a huge event – yet the skills of project management were completely learnt by setting up a marketing roundtable event in my own time.”

Admittedly, managers need to make sure that morale and energy is kept high during the working day. “Running a business alongside working can be mentally and physically draining,” explains Rebecca Yates. In this post documenting her portfolio career at Trivago, Katherine Sparshatt explains how she takes time out to fit in her furniture-making company, and then makes up her time in the content team for the travel firm at the weekend.

Above all, argues Naeema Pasha, director of careers at Henley Business School, managers would be wise to encourage side-hustles because rather than being a distraction. She concludes: “A side hustle gives people a sense of control over their own careers.”

Image: Shutterstock

Powered by Professional Manager