Young Aussies turn to side hustles to secure their financial futures

7 min read
Emma Wardill

Generation Z are turning to side hustles amid a growing desire for financial security, according to new research from GoDaddy. In fact, the past year saw double the number of young Aussies launching small ventures. 



Compare this to the one in eight Gen Zs who had side ventures just 15 months ago. 

The survey of more than 1,000 Aussies aged 18-26 found that having a secure income has become key thanks to the soaring cost of living. 

Australian Bureau of Statistics June data shows living costs have surged over the past year as food prices rose seven to eight per cent and utility costs spiked 12-14%. 

At the same time, labour force data showed the number of Aussies with more than one job jumped 10% between March 2022 and March 2023. Young workers are the most likely to be holding down multiple gigs. 

Graphic showing 75% of Gen Z would take a pay cut to do something they love

Despite the cost of living crunch, Gen Z haven’t given up on their dreams. Three-quarters of young Australians who responded to GoDaddy’s survey said they’d make a financial sacrifice to run a business they were passionate about. 

Related: How the Really Useless Candle Co. became a side hustle 

Young Aussies doing it for themselves 

Kalista Thomas and Emily Barker are among those who’ve recently struck out on their own to launch a business. The two started Glamour & Co Beauty Studio in March 2022. 

After many years in the beauty industry, the friends wanted the freedom to travel and offer makeup services for weddings. 

We saw a gap in the market for a fun, creative beauty studio environment so we created Glamour & Co. 

Emily Barker applying makeup to a client

“We are both independent individuals who have always been career driven,’’ Emily says. “For now, Glamour & Co is a beauty studio — but the name has the potential to grow into anything.’’ 

The duo is passionate about providing the best service to their clients and say launching their own business was the best thing they’ve ever done. 

“We only take on work that we know we can excel in’’ Kalista says. 

“The services we provide are what we are truly passionate about. We try to create a fun, friendly environment where our clients can be themselves.” 

Related: 25 side hustle ideas to make money in 2023 

Gen Z care about the work they do 

Like Emily and Kalista, three in five Gen Z workers in GoDaddy’s survey said they were primarily motivated by work they felt passionate about.  

A further half said they valued doing work “I can be proud of.” Less than a quarter were primarily motivated to do something to change the world or to be their own boss. 



Graphic showing 75% of young Aussies say experience beats classes

When it comes to thinking about their careers more broadly, young Australians are placing increasing importance on having a regular income. 

Half of those surveyed said money was among the top two most important factors in their career. This is significantly higher than in April 2022, when previous GoDaddy research showed less than a third put income first or second. 

Work/life balance has also become more valued in the past year, with 44% nominating it as one of their top priorities this year compared to 36% last year.  

For Emily and Kalista, working towards financial freedom is an important factor in their small business journey. Both are also keen to have more autonomy over their lives.

"We love being in control of our work/life balance. Any hard work we put in, we get a return that's worth it,” Emily says. 

Related: Don’t let imposter syndrome keep you from following your dreams 

Filling the gap with a side hustle

Even as Gen Z’s values have shifted towards stable income and work/life balance, increasing numbers have taken matters into their own hands. 

In 2022, 12% of Gen Z said they had a business or side hustle. Incredibly, just over a year later, that number has doubled to 24%. 

Further, the appeal of side hustles is clearly growing. 

Last year, just over a third of Gen Z said they had no desire to have a side hustle. This year that number has dropped to 27%.   

Now, nearly half of all Gen Z respondents have plans to start a business or side hustle.  

One in five plan to launch their venture in the next 12 months.



This is despite 78% of those surveyed saying they still preferred traditional employment over being their own boss. 

GoDaddy’s latest research also revealed: 

  • More than 60% of Gen Z believe a side hustle is a much more attractive way to earn extra money than more traditional roles like hospitality and retail. 
  • Three quarters were prepared to take an average pay cut of 25% to run a business they were genuinely passionate about. 

Influencers making an impact 

As social media natives, it’s perhaps no surprise that many took inspiration from online influencers when it came to setting up their businesses. 

For those already with a small business, the sources of their inspiration were split between: 

  • Parents (32%)  
  • Online influencers (32%) 

One in five looked to their friends for inspiration. 

Emily and Kalista had both friends and family to help guide them as they realised their dream to set up Glamour & Co. 

“We took business inspiration not only from friends who had hair and beauty salons, but also our family members who run businesses ranging from accounting to tutoring,’’ Emily says. 

“We are very fortunate to have so many supportive people in our lives.” 

Getting online to get ahead 

Kalista says a critical part of their small business launch was getting their site up with the help of GoDaddy.

“It’s where our clients can book appointments online at any time of the day,’’ she says. 

Glamour & Co Beauty Studio website


“There is also plenty of content that shows what we provide and an insight into what it’s like to be a part of our beauty community.” 

The co-owners have linked their social media account to their web page for clients to book appointments online. Both love the efficiency of also having email connected. 

“We love how when clients contact us, the message gets sent straight to our email,’’ she says. 

Facing a future with AI 

As arguably the most technologically literate generation, Gen Z have also jumped into the world of artificial intelligence (AI) with gusto. The GoDaddy survey showed almost half of young Aussies using AI tools. 

Of those who have used AI tools: 

  • 40% said they had used them at home 
  • 26% said they used them at work 

Despite their early adoption of the technology, almost half said they were concerned about AI and the future. Those young Australians who have used AI at work were the most concerned. 

Related: Best AI uses for small business

Small business, big dreams 

Kalista Thomas and Emily Barker, owners of Glamour & Co Beauty Studio

After only a year and a half in business, Emily and Kalista are proud of the beauty salon they’ve built and the strong relationships they’ve fostered with many of their clients.

“We are so proud that we have managed to build and maintain a good reputation,’’ Kalista says. 

“The feedback we receive is amazing and makes us feel like we are actually making a difference to people's lives.” 

When it comes to the future, the co-owners hope they can build a greater focus on makeup for wedding events and travel more often for work. 

So, what’s their parting advice for budding entrepreneurs?  

Emily: “If you want to take on a new business, make sure you can fully commit. It can be hard work and there is sacrifice, but it can be all worth it in the end.”  

Kalista: “Never be afraid to put yourself out there and take control! It could be the best decision you’ve ever made.” 

GoDaddy research survey from July 2023 of 1,071 Australian Gen Zs (18-26yo) conducted via external research agency Antenna Insights.  

Products Used