Bedroom businesses booming as Britons moonlight from home

Apr 29 2005 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Britons may work some of the longest hours in Europe, but a significant number still find the time and energy to "moonlight" on the side – running their own businesses when they get home.

A poll by researcher YouGov on behalf of Microsoft has found that more and more people are running "bedroom businesses" from their homes, while at the same time holding down a full-time day job.

More than a quarter – 28 per cent – of British workers were selling goods or services from home and, of that number, nearly half were doing it to supplement their income.

Technology such as laptops, home PCs, email and the internet was the key to this boom, as it gave people the flexibility to run a business away from a traditional office environment, the survey suggested.

Websites such as auction house eBay have, for instance, given many people access to profitable sidelines that they can run in the evening or at weekends, with some eventually making the leap to running the business full-time.

The survey is a further indication of the disengagement that many workers feel with their "real" employment – that they are clocking on simply to fund what they do when they get home.

It is also a signal of the level of entrepreneurial aspirations of many British workers, initiative that could perhaps be better harnessed by employers.

Almost three-quarters of those surveyed felt it was now easier to run a business from home today than a decade ago.

Virtually all of them – 94 per cent – felt that a business with direct access to technology was more likely to succeed.

More than two-thirds believed they would hold down two jobs at the same time in the next five years, with the trend is expected to increase most among young people.

"I believe we are seeing the true entrepreneurial spirit of the UK reflected in these small start-up businesses that operate on the fringes of the economy," said John Coulthard, director of small business at Microsoft UK.

"There is a demand for a new, and perhaps more accurate definition of the 'SME' term, which would better represent the diversity we see in the market today," he added.

Some 83 per cent of those polled said the goods and services they sold from home were completely unrelated to their day jobs.