Young Britons turn to side hustles amid economic headwinds

5 min read
Emma Wardill

Young Britons are mad about the side hustle, with almost one in three already in business for themselves. 

New research from GoDaddy reveals Generation Z are more interested in a secure income than job flexibility or autonomy. 

The survey of more than 1,000 young Britons aged 18-26 found many turning to side hustles over more traditional second jobs in a bid to pay the rent. 

It comes as official figures show consumer prices were nearly 8% higher in June 2023 than June 2022.  

However, the cost-of-living crunch has not caused young Britons to give up on their dreams. 

The study also shows more than three quarters are prepared to make a financial sacrifice to run a business they’re passionate about. 

Have a great idea for a side hustle? Search for a web address now:

Secure income most important

When it comes to their career choices, Gen Z respondents are overwhelmingly preoccupied with having a regular, secure income. 

Person holding up bars of handmade soap

More than half (53%) named money as the first or second most important factor when considering work.

Money came well ahead of work/life balance, which was among the top two priorities for 39% of Gen Zs. 

While previous generations have valued the job security that comes with permanent employment in government or corporations, that sentiment doesn’t ring as true for younger workers. 

Only 15% of Gen Z said having job security was a first or second order priority. 

When it came to choosing the top two most important factors in their career choices: 

  • 29% nominated passion 
  • 23% said a workplace that supports their mental health 
  • 19% chose flexibility 
  • 14% said control, or the ability to manage their own time 
  • Eight per cent voted for the autonomy that comes from working for themselves

A generation of side-hustlers 

Despite prioritising income security over factors like autonomy and flexibility, young Britons viewed having a side-hustle favourably. 



For Gen Z, the future of work looks like a mix of both a traditional job and a business on the side too. 

The GoDaddy research found that while seven in 10 young Britons prefer traditional employment over being their own boss, they still wish to run their own businesses. 

Man tasting beer in a brewery

In fact, nearly three in 10 already have their own business, with another half planning to start one. 

Of that half: 

  • 21% intend to start their side hustle within the next 12 months  
  • 29% say they’ll wait at least a year 

In the past, young workers were expected to turn to retail and hospitality jobs to boost their earnings.  

But more than half of Gen Zs who took part in the research consider a side hustle a much more attractive way to earn extra money than taking on a casual job in one of these sectors. 

Graphic showing 77 percent of young Brits would take a pay cut to do something they love

Further, more than three quarters of Gen Z said they were prepared to sacrifice an average of 24% of their income to run a business they were genuinely passionate about. 

Related: How to start your own business in the UK 

Gen Z care about the work they do 

While money topped the pops when it came to career choices for Gen Z, it was passion for their work that proved the most motivating. 

  • More than 60% agreed they wanted to do work they were passionate about Drawing of an ecommerce store on a phone
  • Half agreed they wanted to do something they were proud of 

A further 38% agreed with the statement “life is too short to work on something that you’re not passionate about.” 

This came well ahead of doing work that will change the world (24%) and wanting to be their own boss (24%). 

Influencers having an impact 

As social media natives, it’s perhaps no surprise that many Gen Zs took inspiration from online influencers when they started a business. 

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

  • Online influencers (37%) 
  • Parents (37%) 
  • Friends (23%)

When it came to seeking advice on how to run their business, 39% of Gen Z turned to their parents once more, with 38% looking to online or social influencers. 

Nearly a third sought advice from fellow business owners, while a fifth asked for help from professional advisers.

The research also found that almost three in four Gen Zs agree that real-world experience beats the classroom when it comes to their career and entrepreneurial goals.

Money, experience and time were the factors holding back their business dreams. 

Gen Z viewed the biggest barriers to starting a side hustle as not having: 

  • Enough money (57%) 
  • The confidence or a fear of failure (49%) 
  • The skills or expertise (46%) 
  • Enough time (32%) 
  • Enough support (18%)

Attitudes toward AI 

As arguably the most technologically literate generation in history, Gen Z have jumped into the world of Artificial Intelligence (AI) with gusto.  

Half of all young Britons use AI tools according to the GoDaddy research.  

Over half of Britons under 26 have used AI tools

Of those surveyed: 

  • 25% said they use AI tools at home
  • 16% use AI tools at work and at home 
  • 11% use the technology at work only

Despite their early adoption of the technology, more than half said they were concerned about AI and the future. 

Women were significantly more concerned about a future with AI than men (55% vs 47%). 

Related: The essential small business guide to AI 

Up for the challenge 

While Gen Z may be focused on reliable income and hesitant about a future with AI, they are clearly not afraid to take their future into their own hands. 

In fact, these young Britons just might rise to the challenge of the economic times by becoming our most entrepreneurial generation yet. 

GoDaddy research survey from July 2023 of 1,079 British Gen Zs (18-26yo) conducted via external research agency Antenna Insights. 

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