Are you a 5-9er? Why women are changing the face of business

For years, as Dolly Parton sang, the traditional working day has been 9-5 (or often even longer). But as recent research reveals, all that is now changing, thanks to women!

Or more specifically, it’s down to the rapidly-growing army of women starting their own businesses from home and, after finishing their ‘real’ work day, are devoting their evenings to their business.

The growth of 5-9

According to a survey last year by Etsy and RSA, thousands of such entrepreneurs  are changing the face of British business, as they challenge what we consider to be the very purpose of running a business.

Published in partnership with Etsy, the survey Breaking the Mould concluded that we’re on the brink of an important shift in the UK economy.

The report showed that many 9-5rs are now becoming 5-9rs – with the number of people working for themselves as well as someone else increasing by 31% since 2000. In fact, between January and September 2014, the number of people working for themselves part time grew by 10% – that’s the equivalent of an extra 100,000 people.

Most 5-9ers are women

The survey of 600 Etsy sellers showed that 90% of their shop owners are women. And 50% of them increase their household income by an extra 5%, or £1,150 per year.

A fifth of Etsy sellers, meanwhile, spend more than 30 hours a week on their businesses, and add more than 40% to their household income.

The survey also found that:

  • On top of running an Etsy business, 22% of sellers had a full-time job, 15% had a part-time job, and 15% cared for dependents (such as children) at home.
  • Etsy sellers reflect a wider trend in the UK economy – the number of people working for themselves for less than 30 hours a week has increased by almost 60% since 2000.
  • 59% of sellers plan to expand their business by selling through other channels, and 43% to stock goods in a physical shop.

Collaboration not competition

The report also revealed an interesting side-effect of this growth in female entrepreneurs. Moving away from a more masculine business model, sellers are collaborative rather than competitive.

48% of sellers recommend the products of other sellers to their buyers, and 37% said that where possible they source materials and supplies from other shops on the site.

RSA Senior Researcher Benedict Dellot said of the report findings:

“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.”

Setting up business is empowering

Another insight from the report was that sellers found the process of setting up a business very empowering – they said they felt joy and fulfilment from the act of selling, and greater self-worth.

The report concluded that the collaborative nature of running a business, and the friendships formed on platforms like Etsy means that the benefits of entrepreneurship can be social as much as financial.

Business is changing

The survey discovered too that many sellers offer niche and customised products, and develop deep interactions with their customers – a sign of what may be to come in the wider business world.

As a result of its findings, the report made a number of recommendations:

  • To make business support part of the BBC’s public purpose.
  • Create a new tier of support for part-time business owners.
  • Recognise part-time businesses in official measurements.
  • Tweak search engine algorithms to highlight smaller businesses.
  • Deepen and use our knowledge of the therapeutic effect of selling.

How you can make more of a success of your 5-9 business

Are you starting or running an Etsy or other online or 5-9 business? You’ll find plenty of helpful advice in these articles:

And if you do run a side business, don’t forget to register with HMRC as self employed!

You’ll also find plenty of guidance, tools and support in our membership club.