Image above: Things By Bea
For many, the word entrepreneur conjures up images of sneaker clad, hoodie wearing guys trying to crack into Silicon Valley with a new app or a suited gent talking venture capital and seed funding. But the creative entrepreneurs in Etsy’s community – 1.5 million sellers around Australia and the world – bring a different (and exciting) vision to the term. For many of them – of you – entrepreneurship means sewing cushion covers at the dining table on weekends, turning the spare room into a makeshift ceramic studio and dropping customer orders at the post office during workday lunch breaks.
The Etsy seller community represents an emerging face of entrepreneurship and we’re excited to share with you a new report, based on data from a survey of more than 700 Australian sellers and ongoing interactions with our community, that reveals a population of micro-business owners who are different from other small businesses in many ways, but together offer the promise of a more people-centered approach to life, business, and the broader economy.
Though similar reports have been released in the past looking at the Etsy seller community globally and in the US, this is the first time we’ve been able to share insights about the Australian seller community – makers, designers and curators around the country who pursue their passions, work for themselves, and define success on their own terms.
The report, Building an Etsy Economy- The New Face of Entrepreneurship, highlights that Australian Etsy sellers are true business people (predominantly women), and the income they earn on Etsy matters to their lives and to the broader economy.
Read on for report highlights or download the full report here.
Etsy democratises access to entrepreneurship.
Australian Etsy sellers are predominantly female—94% are women and they are more than twice as likely to be young adults (under age 35) as other Australian business owners. Many are parents with children at home and 27% have weekly household income under $800. Nearly half (49%) of all sellers had never sold their goods until they sold them on Etsy. By making it easy to buy and sell goods, Etsy makes entrepreneurship lower-risk and accessible for many people who might not otherwise have started a business.
Etsy sellers run businesses in their own right.
Two-thirds (66%) of Etsy sellers consider their shop to be a business, and 26% focus on their creative businesses as their sole occupation. This business mindset is also reflected in Etsy sellers’ aspirations—93% want to grow their sales in the future.
Etsy sellers are self-reliant.
Most Etsy sellers manage every part of their business themselves. The vast majority of sellers work alone from home, and most handmade sellers are self-taught. Of the 71% who required capital to start their businesses, 91% relied on their own personal savings, and less than 1% obtained a loan.
Income from their creative businesses matters.
For 26% of Australian Etsy sellers, their creative business—both on and off Etsy—is their sole occupation. For the rest, their creative business supplements other jobs, contributing an average of 14% to total household income overall. This money makes a difference—38% use this income for necessary household expenses.
But so does personal fulfilment.
While income plays an important role for Etsy sellers here in Australia, factors such as creativity and personal fulfillment are primary motivators. While fifty-four per cent of sellers said supplemental income was a motivator for starting their Etsy shop, 85% cited creativity as a key factor. A third said they started a creative business to fulfill a personal dream while 7 in 10 wanted to do something they enjoy.
Etsy sellers personify a new paradigm for business.
Etsy sellers have ambitions to grow their businesses, yet they want to do so in a way that supports their personal values. Personal fulfilment and enjoyment is key – almost two-thirds say doing something they enjoy is more important than making money. They also want their business to have a positive impact on the world—more than 70% of Australian sellers agree that growing their businesses sustainably and responsibly is important to them.
Implications for public policy.
Although Etsy sellers differ from traditional entrepreneurs in many ways, they are emblematic of larger shifts in the economy towards self-employment and micro-business. Most are businesses of one, and face very different challenges from even a five-or ten- person enterprise. We encourage government and regulatory agencies to look at policies that support sellers’ efforts to start and grow their creative businesses and enable the broader maker economy to thrive.
The Etsy Admin team here in Australia has been thrilled to see the local seller community flourish and we’re excited to continue to support the growth of creative entrepreneurs around the country.