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More Than a Quarter of American Adults Under Age 45 Started a Side Business During the Pandemic

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — December 9, 2020 — According to a new survey published today by TextNow, the leading mobile app offering free cellular and WiFi-enabled phone service, more than a quarter (28%) of American adults under the age of 45 started a side business/side hustle during the pandemic. Overall, nearly one-in-five (17%) American adults started a side business/side hustle during the pandemic.

The survey, conducted online by The Harris Poll and commissioned by TextNow among more than 2,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and older (676 with a side business/side hustle), found that 76% of Americans with a side business/side hustle believe that controlling business expenses is key to its success.

“The ability to earn extra income during the pandemic with a side business is tied more than ever to technology,” says TextNow CEO Derek Ting. “Whether it’s setting up a virtual storefront with Shopify, marketing on Instagram, or communicating with customers and vendors through our app, online services are allowing new entrepreneurs to follow their passions without large upfront capital costs. We have seen tremendous value in bringing free phone service to small businesses who benefit from a dedicated business phone number, professional voicemail messages, and separating professional and personal contacts.”

With millions of Americans facing underemployment due to the pandemic, people are turning to side businesses such as selling things online, dog walking, or gig work to earn extra income. With any new business, staying connected with customers and vendors is key. Among those who started a side business/side hustle during the pandemic, two thirds (66%) say that using a dedicated phone line for each helps/would help them keep their business and personal life separate. However, nearly two thirds (64%) say it is too costly for them to have separate phone lines for personal use and business use. TextNow makes communication affordable for side businesses by offering a free second phone number on a primary device.

Additional findings in the survey show the benefits of a dedicated professional phone line for those with a side business:

  • More than half (55%) of those with a side business/side hustle, and 59% among those under 45 years old, say it’s important to them to have a separate phone line for personal use and business use.
  • Three in five (60%) of those with a side business/side hustle, and 67% of those under 45 years old, say keeping their personal phone line separate from their business phone line helps/would help keep their business organized.

The Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of TextNow from November 17 – 19, 2020 among 2,075 U.S. adults ages 18 and older (among whom 676 have a side business/side hustle and 363 have a side business/side hustle they started during the pandemic). This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact Nick de Pass.

About TextNow
Founded in 2009, TextNow is the largest provider of free phone service in the U.S. With offices in San Francisco, Waterloo and Portland, the TextNow app has been downloaded more than 200 million times globally, helping millions of people stay connected with a free phone number through its mobile app and ad-supported calling and texting over WiFi and the Nationwide Sprint Network. For more information, visit

Nick de Pass
[email protected]